One more reason winter is not on many people’s favorite lists—dry eyes. The outdoor and indoor conditions, dry, cold winter winds and heated indoor air that lacks moisture, can bring on or worsen an existing case of dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms range from person to person but include itchy, gritty, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in the eyes, blurred vision, and sometimes excessive watering.If winter has brought on dry eyes or worsened a case of existing dry eyes you can try these seven methods of easing the symptoms.
- Moisturize your eyes with over-the-counter artificial tears. Over-the-counter artificial tears can be used as often as needed and the preservative-free artificial tears are less likely to contain additives that may irritate your eyes.
- Wear goggles or large 100% UV protective sunglasses when out in extreme cold and wind to prevent tear evaporation.
- Run a humidifier to add moisture to the air and your eyes.
- Prevent forced heat from indoor or car heater vents from blowing on your face.
- Combat dehydration, which can affect the moisture in your eyes, by drinking lots of fluids.
- Apply warm compresses to your eyes to sooth them and to stimulate the oil glands in your eyelids to produce more of the protective lipid layer of your tears.
- Blink often. If you spend a lot of time staring at the electronic screen on a phone, computer, or television, make sure you take frequent breaks when you look 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds and blink several times
If your dry eye is only a reaction to the cold and dry winter conditions, using the methods listed above will help you keep your eyes moist until warmer weather brings about the end of your seasonally induced dry eyes.
If you have chronic dry eyes, you will want to explore additional options for treating your condition. Foods, such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, or nutritional supplements that contain essential fatty acids may ease dry eye symptoms for some people. If you have chronic dry eyes, make sure you have a comprehensive eye examination so your doctor can assess your condition and get you started on the best treatment for your situation.
Depending on your level of eye dryness and the probable causes of your dry eyes, your ophthalmologist has several options to treat your condition and alleviate your dry eye symptoms, such as, prescribing antibiotics for inflammation, or immunosuppressive eye drops, or inserting tear duct plugs to prevent your tears from evaporating too quickly, or reviewing and changing medications you are taking that may be contributing to your chronic dry eyes.
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