Treating (and Preventing) Dry Eyes in Winter
It’s not unusual to notice that your eyes are drier in the winter. Dry eyes are most likely to occur in winter and spring when seasonal changes like lower indoor humidity and high winds, can lead to dry eyes and discomfort. While you can’t change the weather, there are treatments you can use during the wintertime that will reduce the scratchy, itchy, and sometimes painful symptoms that come with dry eyes.
Treating dry eyes in winter
You may have to use a combination of treatments to see the best results.
Artificial tears are a method of restoring natural moisture to your eyes. They are available over-the-counter at most drugstores. If you wear contacts, make sure you are purchasing a contacts-friendly option. Try to apply the artificial tears several times throughout the day. Read the eye drops label carefully: If the drops contain preservatives, applying them more frequently may irritate your eyes. If you find yourself needing artificial tears more than six times a day, you may need to talk to your doctor about prescription treatments for dry eyes.
Over-the-counter eye ointments can help to treat dry eyes. These are thicker than eye drops, and you usually apply them to your inner lower lash line. Because they are thicker, you can ideally apply eye ointments before bedtime. This reduces the likelihood that eye ointments will blur your vision.
A key contributing factor to winter dry eyes is the use of heaters indoors. While you certainly shouldn’t freeze in the name of combating dry eyes, you can use an indoor humidifier to restore some moisture into the air. A few things about humidifiers: it’s imperative that you keep them clean and away from little hands. The moisture in humidifiers can naturally attract mold and bacteria, which can turn your otherwise helpful humidifier into a breeding ground for illness. Clean them regularly as the manufacturer suggests to keep this from occurring.
If your eyes are very irritated and red, applying warm compresses can help to reduce redness and discomfort.
Preventing dry eyes in winter
Here are some ways you can reduce dry eye symptoms this winter:
- Avoid the use of hair dryers, especially when the dryer blows directly into your eyes.
- Keep your home as cool as you can tolerate to reduce your heater usage.
- Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These may help to reduce dry eye (plus they’re good for you overall).
- Wear wrap-around glasses when you go outside. These will help to protect your eyes from drying wind during the winter.