How to Avoid Developing Dry Eyes During the Winter Months
If you’ve ever experienced dry eye, you know the bane it can be and how it can often seem to disrupt every part of your life.
You wake up to a warm house thanks to the miracle of central heating. But that means you also wake up to dry eyes.
Come lunchtime, you head out of the office and into the wild to find a cafe and read. But the cold air has taken its toll and you can’t because you have dry eyes.
It’s the end of the day and all you want to do is curl up on the sofa, chill out, and watch your favourite series. But yep, yet again there they are with you: strained, itchy, and dry eyes.
Dry eye is an increasingly common condition that’s pretty much self-descriptive. It describes the state of our eyes can get into when they produce an insufficient amount of tears and aren’t as well lubricated as they should be.
Although dry eyes can come about for a number of complex reasons such as diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s, they’re most often caused by more common and everyday conditions like working at a computer (otherwise known as Digital Vision Syndrome) and being exposed to the cold weather and central heating during the winter months.
As you can see, a lot of these conditions of dry eyes increase when it’s not so nice out. But many of them, especially using screens and being exposed to heating, are risk factors all year around.
To help you take care of them and reduce or even prevent dry eyes in the first place, we’ve put together a few tried and tested tips. Keep them in mind whether you’re battling wintery blizzards or curled up by the fire, and ensure that you and your eyes are kept safe for many more winters to come.
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What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
To treat dry eyes, first and foremost you need to be able to spot them.
The most common symptoms of dry eyes include feeling as though you have a small piece of grit in your eyes, as well as having blurry vision after looking at screens or reading a book for a prolonged period. Normally this unpleasant sensation tends to get worse as the day goes by.
More often than not, due to the dry nature of the winter season (cold, crisp mornings and warm central heating) both our skin and eyes become dry. For this reason, more people notice dry eye in the winter, but dry eye can also occur in the summer months under certain circumstances so don’t wave the symptoms aside because of the season.
As you might expect, other than moving to a county with a preferable climate, the best way of treating dry eye is to increase the amount of moisture getting to your eyes and restrict the amount of water that leaves them.
How do I prevent dry eye?
There are several things you can do to ensure your eyes are kept hydrated and reduce your risk of developing dry eye. These include a mix of things you can do to both take in more fluid and retain it.
- Drink water – plenty of water. About eight glasses or two litres depending on your size
- Use glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from cold bitter winds
- Avoid smoke and smoking; both actively and passively
- Use a humidifier in the home. This will prevent fluid from evaporating from the eyes
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamin A, C and E that contain omega-3 fatty acids
- Avoid wearing contact lenses for long periods of time (or wearing them at all)
- If you use a hair dryer to blow dry your hair, avoid pointing it directly at your face
- Cut your coffee and alcohol intake as much as possible as they act as diuretics
How do I treat dry eyes?
If your dry eye symptoms get worse as the winter months progress, or you simply want a way to keep them more comfortable during the day, you can pick up dry eye drops to help lubricate your eyes.
Dry eye drops are available for anyone to buy in pharmacies and supermarkets. However, it’s recommended to only use drops that are suitable for your eye condition, so seek expert advice from your ophthalmologist first.
As well as getting dry eye drops, you can also make adjustments to your lifestyle too. A simple one that anyone can do is to give your eyes short breaks throughout the day by shutting them for five to ten minutes, especially when spending long periods using a computer.
You can also make the choice to wear glasses more frequently than contact lenses, as these can further dry your eyes out. Finally, instead of sitting on top of a heater or radiator throughout the day and suffering dry itchy eyes as a result, grab a few more blankets. This way you’re not only just doing your vision a favour, but also our environment.