Dry eyes in winter can really play havoc with your day-to-day activities – when you’re experiencing a flare up and literally cannot focus on anything else, it can feel like it’s taken over your world! If you experience occasional bouts of dry eyes, or suffer with chronic dry eye disease, you’re not alone.
Dry eye disease affects over 16 million Americans, which is why it comes as no surprise that Dr Ashley Marvin, our dry eye specialist, has been asked by so many of our patients for advice on how they can alleviate symptoms during the winter months. Read on to find out more about this condition and our top eye care tips on how to prevent dry eyes in winter.
What Is Dry Eye Disease?
As the name suggests, dry eye disease occurs when your eyes aren’t producing enough tears, or poor-quality tears. The tear film consists of three layers: water, mucus, and oil, and when these are imbalanced, your eyes are prevented from being adequately lubricated, and so dry out.
Dry eyes are especially common during the winter months, not only because the weather can be colder and windier, but also as a result of the air in our homes, cars and workplaces being dried out by having the heating on to stay warm.
Although dry eyes are more common during the winter months, it isn’t just a seasonal condition. Aging and being a woman, both make you more likely to develop dry eye disease, as well as having certain medical conditions, like diabetes or thyroid, taking specific medications, and lifestyle factors, like spending too much time staring at digital devices.
Dry eye can also be caused by blepharitis, which is when your eyelids can become swollen and inflamed, resulting in flaky particles forming at the base of your eyelashes.
Dry Eye Symptoms & Treatment
There are a number of symptoms associated with dry eye, including:
- A stinging, burning sensation
- Itchy eyes
- Red eyes
- Blurry vision
- Watery eyes
- Discomfort while wearing contact lenses
How to Reduce Your Symptoms
Although there is no permanent cure for dry eye disease, the good news is there are many simple steps you can take to effectively reduce your symptoms and make your environment more friendly for your eyes all year round.
One quick and easy approach is to use over-the-counter artificial tears to maintain a good level of moisture in your eyes. These can be very effective for temporarily relieving your symptoms – we recommend using preservative free solutions as they don’t contain chemicals that can irritate your eyes and are also contact lens friendly.
Protecting your eyes by wearing oversized or wraparound sunglasses can really help to deflect cold winds from drying out your eyes. Feel free to take a look at our online collections, or visit us in store to see all of our options. You might also want to consider using a humidifier indoors to increase levels of moisture in the air if you’ve got the heating turned up during winter.
If you wear eye makeup, always make sure to remove it before going to sleep. Leaving mascara and other eye makeup on can lead to irritation and sometimes eye infections, by blocking the tear ducts.
Many people find that regularly using warm compresses can also soothe dry eyes, helping to loosen any flakes produced by blepharitis and keep your oil glands unclogged. Simply place the compress over your closed eyes for about 5 minutes each day for temporary relief.
Eat Your Way to Better Eye Health
Incorporating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, soya, and walnuts into your diet can also reduce your risk of dry eye disease, helping to improve oil gland function in your eyes and reduce inflammation. One study of 32,000 women actually found that those who consumed omega-3 fatty acids from fish actually had a 17% lower risk of dry eye compared to those you didn’t!
If over-the-counter artificial tears and home remedies aren’t helping, remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence! We are always more than happy to advise on alternative treatment options, whether it’s in the form of ointments, prescription eye drops, or recommending you for tear duct plugs or surgery. The first step is to book a dry eye assessment at our Brentwood eye clinic with our dry eye specialist, Dr. Ashley Marvin, who can diagnose the severity of your condition and recommend the most effective dry eye treatment.
Contact our eye clinic in St Louis for advice, or to book an assessment, and start your journey to dry eye relief today!