When the temperatures drop outside, we turn on the heaters inside to keep cozy and warm. By doing so, our eyes can get more dry and the heat can decrease the moisture that allows the tears to stay on our eyes longer. Symptoms include redness, eye rubbing, and the feeling of sand in the eyes. To help prevent the heater from creating a dry eye environment, its best to run a humidifier to create more moisture molecules in the air. Another best practice is to try limiting the time the heater is on while you’re home or using a heating pad or blanket at night instead of running the heat while you and your family are sleeping.
Cold air exposure
As we step out into the cold and windy winter air, watery eyes can occur. Cold air can cause the cushion of tears, that protect the sensitive surface cells from evaporation, to thin. In turn, this tells the tear gland to produce extra tears to compensate. The result is that tears can flood our eyes and spill onto our cheeks.
To help prevent tearing of the eyes, wear sunglasses, goggles, or glasses to act as a barrier between the eyes and cold air. Another way of prevention is using artificial tears before, during, and after an outing in the cold weather to give the eyes an extra layer of tears.
Creating more dry environments artificially indoors with heaters or naturally from wind and chill outside, causes a drop in humidity. Our eyes love moisture to keep tear production flowing and prevent premature evaporation. When the eyes, much like our skin, begin to lose moisture, they get dry. A simple fix is to create more moisture in the air with humidifiers.
There are some easy, at- home ways to help with winter dry eyes, such as using preservative free artificial tears, using a heated eye mask to lock in moisture and help reduce tear evaporation, and wearing trusted eye protection while outdoors. If your child is having eye problems, please visit your local Eye Care Practitioner for proper care.
xo, Dr. Arian Fartash