One of the most common eye health complaints we see in the fall and winter months is dryness. Dry eye symptoms most commonly present as a burning or itching sensation which often leads to our eyes excessively watering as they try to keep themselves moistened. People who wear contacts for vision correction often feel the effects of dry eye symptoms in fall and winter the worst.
Why do my eyes feel so dry in the cold weather?
As the air naturally cools, it loses the humidity of summer. Without that humidity, the cool crisp air tends to dry out the natural moisture of the eyes more quickly. As the outdoors conditions become colder and winter winds pick up, this can further exacerbate these dry eye symptoms.
And, as we get further into cold weather months, our furnaces kick on and the heating systems in our homes blow warm, but dry air into and around our living spaces. This keeps us warm, but can also keep that burning or itching sensation lingering in our eyes – even once we step inside out of the cold weather.
How can I protect my eyes in the cold weather?
When it comes to eye health during cold weather months, there are several things you can do to help prevent irritating eye problems:
- Blink more often – especially when doing focused tasks like computer work, reading, or driving. This gives your eyelids the opportunity to do the job they were made to do: naturally protect your eyes!
- Keep eyes moist through hydration and/or drops – making sure your entire body remains hydrated is an important step you can take year-round, but is often overlooked in cold weather as we aren’t quenching thirst from a hot summer sun. Keeping the body hydrated means also keeping our eyes hydrated. When it’s not enough, artificial tear eye drops can help by lubricating your eyes and preventing the natural tear layer from evaporating too quickly.
- Use a humidifier in your home – combat the dry air by using a whole-home humidifier or, at the very least, keep a humidifier running in the room(s) you spend the most time in.
- Wear glasses when outdoors – just like in those warm sunny months, you’ll want to protect your eyes with sunglasses during cold weather, too. Not only will sunglasses provide a shield against cold wind, it also protects your eyes from harmful UV rays, especially when reflecting off of snow.
If your eye health during the cold weather is a concern, please see an eye doctor. If left untreated, cold weather eye problems like dry eyes can cause blurry vision and even damage to the cornea.