The winter months usually offer a reprieve from the consistent heat that has lingered for months on end. Still, as the air gets cooler, it also gets drier. Dry air can be unfriendly to the skin as well as to the eyes. To make matters worse, the use of indoor heat is the norm during wintertime. Indoor heating takes dry and air, if you can imagine this is possible, dries it even more. If you’re sitting in a comfortably warm home or office, you don’t want your comfort to be disrupted by dry, irritated eyes. Here, we discuss what you can do to avoid or decrease this problem.
Understanding Dry Eyes
Tears are not something we have only when we cry. Tears are an essential aspect of healthy eyes. Without tears, the surface of the eyes would be dry all the time. Without a healthy tear film, it would be difficult and uncomfortable to blink because the eyelids would not glide easily over the ocular surface. The tear film is a mixture of water, mucus, and oil. These three fluids spread across the eyes when we blink. When the eyes are open, the air evaporates some of the tear film. The rest drains naturally through canals in the lower eye area. The natural evaporation of the tear film accelerates based on the environment. A drier environment means faster evaporation.
Tips for Managing Wintertime Dry Eyes
The following may help you avoid or reduce wintertime dry eyes:
- Set a timer to close your eyes for 20 to 30 seconds. Remember, the tear film is evaporated by the air in the environment. This film cannot be reduced significantly when the eyes are closed. Now, we realize that you cannot sit back with your eyes closed all day long. You can, however, be mindful about closing your eyes more frequently for short bursts of time to allow the tear film to replenish itself.
- Change your environment. It might sound nice to avoid dry eyes by taking a trip to a warmer, more humid part of the world just for a few weeks. However, this isn’t always possible. There’s another way to change your environment: add a humidifier. Doing this at home or in your office can add moisture to the environment so the air is less drying to the eyes and the skin.
- Add moisture to the body. We often hear that we should address winter skin with emollient skin creams. We can’t do this for the eyes. However, we can add moisture to the body by making sure we’re drinking plenty of water, something that is easy to overlook in the cold-weather months.
If necessary, artificial tears can be used periodically to manage wintertime dry eye. If symptoms persist, see your eye doctor for a full examination of your tear film and, if needed, a professional-grade eye drop. We’d love to see you in our Amarillo office. Call (806) 351-1177 to schedule a visit.