Does Dry Eye Worsen in the Winter?

January 24, 2022

Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions in the world, yet a large number of people have never even heard of it and even fewer realize that it is the name of an actual condition rather than just a symptom.


Dry eye occurs when there isn’t enough tear film coating the surface of the eyes, or the quality of the tear film is poor meaning that it isn’t lubricating enough. This can happen because the eyes fail to make enough tear film, because there are blockages in the oil glands that provide lubricating oil for tear film, or because the tear film drains too quickly.


Unsurprisingly, the most common symptom of dry eye is that from which the condition gets its name – dry eyes. Your eyes may feel dry, dehydrated, stiff, and uncomfortable. Other symptoms of dry eye include


  • Itchiness

  • Redness

  • Sore, painful eyes

  • Eye fatigue

  • A feeling as though you have grit or sand in your eyes

  • Blurred vision

  • Sensitivity to light


These symptoms can also be signs of other eye problems, so it’s a good idea to speak to your eye doctor to get a diagnosis before looking into any treatment options.


Does Dry Eye Get Worse In The Winter Months?

While dry eye can occur at any time of the year, the vast majority of people who suffer from dry eye will find that their symptoms get worse during the winter months. There are several reasons for this.


Firstly, the air outside is drier in the winter months anyway. This is because wintertime humidity is much lower, meaning that any moisture that is present in the environment is quickly sucked up into the air. Unfortunately, the air inside our homes is generally much drier too, and that’s because as temperatures reduce, we are more likely to rely on our property heating to keep our home at an ambient temperature. The combination of colder temperatures, dry outdoor air, and dry indoor artificially-heated air can all contribute towards dehydration of our bodies, our skin, and our eyes.


Winter is also a time when many cold viruses are prevalent, and many of these can affect our eyes, causing them to feel drier, stiffer, and more uncomfortable than before. Worse still, viruses can travel to our eyes, causing eye infections to develop. These may need treatment, and you may find that your dry eye symptoms worsen before they get better.


How To Ease Dry Eye Symptoms

You’ll be pleased to know that there are steps that you can take to ease your dry eye symptoms this winter. One of the best things that you can do is to invest in a humidifier for your home and office. A humidifier adds moisture to the air which makes the environment less dry and may relieve your symptoms.


Other popular treatments for the relief of dry eye symptoms include:


  • Artificial tears

  • Prescription eyedrops

  • Over-the-counter eye ointments

  • Warm compresses

You should also try and protect your eyes from the cold and wind whenever you go outside, which you can do by wearing a pair of glasses, sunglasses or goggles.


Your eye doctor will be able to recommend the most effective treatments for dry eyes and will help you to find the one that works best to alleviate your symptoms and improve the comfort of your eyes this winter.


For more information on dry eyes, visit Eye Associates of New York in Manhattan. Call (212) 650-4888 to schedule an appointment today.

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