December 21 marked the first official day of winter which means subzero temperatures are in full swing across Canada. Some enjoyable aspects come with the cold, like delicious hot chocolate and ski season, but it also has its downsides as well – icy roads, wind burned cheeks, and chapped lips.
Another drawback you may notice as the temperatures continue to drop is irritated, dry eyes. The contrast between the brisk temperatures outdoors and dry head inside can cause our eyes to become dehydrated quicker during the winter creating a stinging, itching, or burning sensation as your glands struggle to produce enough tears.
We’ve developed a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help keeping your eyes hydrated and healthy throughout the 2016-2017 winter season:
- Use a humidifier: Offset the dry air in your home during the winter by using a humidifier, which increase the home’s humidity level that can dip during the winter months. In doing so, the humidity within your home can remain in the 30-55 percent range it requires for your eyes to remain lubricated.
- Hydrate through foods: Up your intake of fluid-rich foods such as fruits, veggies, and soups throughout the winter to counteract the dehydration affects that can easily occur within your body, which quickly impacts the water development in the eyes.
- Get your fix of omega-3 fatty acids: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids through food or fish oil supplements to help improve the quality of your eye glands that often become inflamed from the winter’s dry air.
- Use artificial tears: Using eye drops up to four times per day can provide your eyes with the lubricant they need when they become dry. Artificial tear drops can be purchased over the counter at a local drug store for mild cases of dry eyes, or your doctor may prescribe prescription medication for more serious conditions.
- Do not blow heat directly at your face: We’re all guilty of instinctively blasting hot air in the car to warm up, but it’s this habit that causes the eyes to dry out faster. As an alternative measure to staying warm in the car, direct the heat to the feet and window vents and use seat warmers if available.
- Do not overconsume diuretic drinks: Be mindful of your consumption of diuretic drinks throughout the winter, such as coffee, tea and soda, as they can speed up dehydration affects in the body leaving your eyes irritated.
Occasionally, dry eyes can progress into a more serious eye condition which is why it’s important to make regular appointments to have your eyes examined by a local doctor of optometry.
Happy holidays and a happy new year!