The cold winter weather in Maine can cause or aggravate existing dry eyes. When the temperature drops, so does the humidity level in the air. Plus, freezing temperatures and storms mean most of us are spending more time inside where dry air is being circulated by heating systems. These factors create an environment where there is less moisture circulating, lowering your body’s ability to make tears. You can take steps to prevent and self-treat dry eyes to be more comfortable this winter.
Protect Your Eyes Outside
Sunglasses aren’t just a summer accessory – they’re necessary to protect your eyes from UV rays year-round. In the winter they also serve the additional purpose of blocking the wind. Wind blowing into your eyes, especially when it’s cold air, can cause your eyes to dry out faster. If you find that regular sunglasses aren’t getting the job done, find a wraparound pair that offers more protection for the side of your eyes.
If you’re taking advantage of Maine’s great outdoors to go skiing or snowboarding, make sure you have a solid pair of goggles to wear. Whether you’re on the mountaintop or skiing quickly along cross country trails, the cold air whipping into your eyes will make them dry out faster and cause general irritation. People who wear glasses can even get prescription goggles to make it easier to enjoy winter sports without vision issues.
Caring for Dry Eyes
To alleviate the effects of spending more time in dry, indoor environments, try running a humidifier in your home or office. If you’re inside working and staring at a computer for most of the day, be sure to take breaks from the screen. You also need to be proactive about blinking to keep your eyes moisturized; your eyes may be less inclined to blink naturally when you’re actively looking at a screen. Drinking enough water is important all the time, but in the winter staying hydrated is important for preventing dry eyes.
If you are bothered by dry eyes, you can try using artificial tears/eye drops to help moisten your eyes. Eye ointments to help soothe dry eyes are also available over the counter.
Another solution for dry eyes is to put a warm compress over your eyes to help stimulate tear production. All this requires is warm water and a washcloth. A warm compress on your eyes has the added benefit of being a soothing, relaxing experience!
When to Worry About Dry Eyes
If your dry eye symptoms don’t improve with home treatment such as artificial tears and warm compresses, contact your eye doctor. While dry eyes are frequently nothing more than an annoyance during the winter, there are times when they can be extremely bothersome or indicate a more serious issue with your eyes. For long-lasting, more severe dry eyes, an eye doctor may be able to prescribe an ointment or eye drop to help resolve the issue. They will also be able to assess if your dry eyes are indicative of a condition such as a vitamin deficiency or Sjogren’s syndrome.
We’ll Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy
The team at Maine Optometry is here to keep your eyes healthy in every season. Reach out any time to speak with our staff or set up an appointment at (207) 389-3525.