Contrary to popular belief, winter air is usually drier than the other seasons. Surprised? This lack of humidity can make eyes feel a bit more red and scratchy. Unfortunately, there is little comfort to be found going indoors to reduce exposure to the winter air, as heaters dry out the air inside buildings and can contribute to the arid feeling your eyes. So how in the world can a person make it through winter without suffering from the miserable itching and burning that accompanies dry eyes? Consider the following prevention and treatment tips.
- To prevent dry eyes consider employing any combination of the following:
o Find contacts that naturally hydrate like Acuvue Oasys.
o Stay hydrated. Your eye’s ability to produce tears is directly related to good hydration, so drink plenty of water.
o Use a humidifier while at home, as this should counter the drying effect that heaters have on your eyes and skin.
o Place your computer screen at or just below eye level—looking up will cause naturally produced tears to evaporate quicker and contribute to dry eyes.
o Wear sunglasses anytime you are outside to protect your eyes from the winter wind, as well as harmful UV rays.
o Avoid having air blowing directly into your eyes. This includes hair dryers, air conditioning/heating, or fans.
o Avoid smoke filled rooms. Smoke is literally microscopic particles that aggravate the eye.
o Keep your contacts clean and well-conditioned. If this sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, consider investing in lenses that can be freshly replaced each day, like the Focus Dailies Aquacomfort Plus.
- To relieve dry eyes:
o Use contact lens rewetting drops (a.k.a. artificial tears) as often as recommended to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes. It may also be helpful to put some drops in the eyes before sleeping to help the eyes recover. Speak to your eye care professional before using drops to ensure that you use the right product for your eyes.
o Be very careful not to poke yourself in the eye with the bottle. One helpful trick to applying drops is to rest the tip of the bottle on either side of the eye where the eyelids “meet” and allow the drops to fall into the eye.
o Do not use saliva to moisten contact lenses! It is not hygienic and saliva is not properly formulated for contact lenses.
o Close your eyes from time to time for a few minutes. This will allow the eye to briefly recover from the dry air and will give the tear ducts a better chance to moisturize the eye.
o Avoid rubbing the eyes. This actually hastens the evaporation of tears and foreign particles can be transferred from the hands to the eye. Moreover, your contact may become awkwardly positioned and need readjusting.
Although winter is one of the driest times of the year and can cause significant discomfort for contact lens wearers, take comfort in knowing that you hold power over that scratchy feeling. By using some of these prevention and treatment tips, you can enjoy the cold weather and the punishment for your eyes associated with winter should be a thing of the past.