Avoid Wintertime Dry Eye Woes
Texas is not an area of the country in which the winter season transforms the landscape. We may not see the snowfall and frigid temperatures that others do, but wintertime can bring changes that we don't expect. As the air cools, it also dries. This is a change we don't see. We do, however, tend to feel it. The way that cool, dry air affects many people is to dry out their skin, their lips, and their eyes. While we can't help with the first two, we can provide suggestions for avoiding dry eye this winter.
To prevent unnecessary discomfort from dry eye, try the following strategies:
- Wear glasses. Any glasses. If it's sunny, wear your sunglasses. Expecting rain and clouds? Purchase some nonprescription fashion lenses. The reason for wearing sunglasses during the winter is that the lenses provide a buffer between the eyes and the environment, including wind and dry air. Remember also that the air can be just as dry inside as it can be outside, thanks to indoor heating.
- Stay hydrated. The tear film is made up of water, oil, and mucus. Without sufficient water content in the body, which we must replenish by drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day, the eyes have little to draw from. Staying hydrated doesn't have to mean chugging ice-cold water. Who wants to do that in winter? Try herbal teas or warm water with lemon and honey as a wintertime alternative. Also, avoid caffeine. This works against hydration.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes, dry eyes come on strong and without warning. You can be prepared for this by purchasing lubricating eye drops from a local pharmacy. If you have an eye condition, sensitive eyes, or wear contact lenses, talk to your eye doctor for product recommendations that are right for you.
- Warm up. The eyes benefit from mild moist heat. Studies suggest that applying a warm, moist washcloth over the eyes for a few minutes a day can have a significant impact on dry eyes. This can soothe irritation and promote moisture throughout the day.
- Take a break. Many of us spend our days in front of some type of digital screen. Whether you work on a computer or use a digital device for studying or fun, take a break. Studies show that when we are looking at a screen (or good book!), we blink very few times a minute. To offset the dryness, we need to set down our devices or look away from the screen about every 20 minutes. Close the eyes, and blink several times to spread the tear film across the eye.