Red eye

When the cold weather hits it is easy to remember to get out your scarf to protect your face, gloves to keep your fingers warm, and boots to keep your feet warm and dry. But don’t forget about chilly winter weather and your eyes.

Did you know that snow reflects as much as 80 percent of UV radiation, which is much higher than the amount reflected by water or beach sand.

Dry eye occurs when the quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated and nourished. Dry eye is estimated to affect millions of adults in the United States, particularly in older adults.

In most cases, dry eye can be managed successfully. Here are the symptoms of dry eyes and tips for combating them during wintry weather.

Symptoms of dry eyes.

  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Aching, sore, or fatigued eyes
  • Dryness
  • Red eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

SunglassesSelf-care tips for dry eyes in wintry weather.

  1. Use a humidifier. If you spend time in heated environments, use a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air. This can help restore humidity, and moisture to the eyes.
  2. Drink lots of fluids. Keeping your body hydrated will help maintain moisture in your eyes. Drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses per day).
  3. Protect your eyes. If you know you will be outdoors in harsh weather conditions – extreme cold or wind – make sure you wear eye protection (sunglasses/goggles with wraparound fames) or a hat with a visor to keep the wind and particles from getting in your eyes.
  4. Divert heat from face. You might not feel it at the time, but blowing heat onto your face is drying up moisture in your eyes. Turn the vents in your vehicle down toward your lower body to prevent this direct contact.
  5. Blink. Remember to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
  6. Over-the-counter medications. Mild dry eye symptoms may be treated with over-the-counter topical medications, such as artificial tears, gels and ointments.
  7. See your doctor. Occasional bouts of dry eyes can eventually progress into dry eye disease. People experiencing dry eye symptoms should consult a medical professional to determine the cause, which guides treatment strategy.

Sources: American Optometric Association, National Eye Institute, The College of Optometrists

The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.