Fall is truly an incredible time of year for Colorado, with beautiful oranges, yellows, and reds throughout the area, fresh cool weather, and the fun crunch of leaves under our feet. But unfortunately, fall colors soon turn to cold winter weather, which means dry air that can cause a variety of problems for our eyes.
The air in a cold climate is dryer because cold air holds less moisture; there is also less humidity in the air during winter. This combination of low humidity and dry air means harsh conditions for our eyes, which need moisture in order to be healthy. If you already struggle with dry eyes, the winter season can be even worse.
At Spectrum Eye Care in Colorado Springs, our eye doctors are committed to providing our patients with the best possible eye care. This means not only thorough and compassionate eye exams and high-quality eye products, but also professional advice and guidance on how to take care of your eyes during the winter. To avoid the stinging and burning sensation, eye redness, and annoying mucus that can come with dry eye, learn the best ways to prevent and relieve winter dry eyes.
8 Tips For Managing Dry Eyes
Use Artificial Tears
Eye drops can be both preventative care and treatment for dry eyes. Apply a few drops in the morning and once in the afternoon if necessary to keep your eyes moist. There are a variety of both OTC and prescription brands available, each with different benefits and ingredients. Talk with your eye doctor to determine which brand will best fit your needs.
Drink a Lot of Water
Our bodies need to be well hydrated to stay healthy and function as well as possible. Our eyes consist of a lot of water, so if your body isn’t getting enough, neither will your eyes. As a general rule, drink half of your body weight in ounces: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water every day.
Avoid Sources of Heat
Even though there may be nothing better than curling up in front of a fire or heater during the winter, heat can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. If you have the heat on in the car, point the fan away from your face, if you are sitting near a fire, sit pointing away from the fire or at least put some space in between yourself and the fire.
Avoid Staring at a Computer
Computer vision syndrome has similar symptoms as dry eyes, so if you work in an office and are in front of a computer for hours at a time, remember to give your eyes a break. Every 20 minutes, look at least 20 feet into the distance for at least 20 seconds. Following this 20-20-20 rule can give your eyes a break by using muscles that focus farther away rather than close-up.
Don’t Touch or Rub Your Eyes
It’s understandable that you may want to scratch or rub your eyes if they’re feeling tired or itchy, but this will only make the problem worse. Rubbing your eyes can increase irritation as well as increase the risk of infection if your hands aren’t clean. Rather than rubbing, use a warm compress. This is an especially important tip in today’s environment when COVID-19 is still a risk.
Colorado is one of the sunniest states, so wearing a pair of high-quality polarized sunglasses can make a big difference. This is especially true if you’re outside when there is snow on the ground, as the snow will reflect the light and can bounce into your eyes. And if you have corrective eyewear, Spectrum Eye Care can provide an eye exam and custom prescription sunglasses so that you’re not constantly switching between two different pairs of glasses.
To further protect your eyes, wear a visor that will keep the wind out of your eyes. And if you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast, you can be fitted with a pair of custom prescription goggles.
Use a Humidifier
Even heated indoor spaces can be dry and harsh for your eyes. To keep your home as humid as possible, use a humidifier that releases moisture into the air. A quality humidifier, however, can be quite pricy, so a cost-effective solution is to place a bowl or jug of water next to a vent. By placing water next to a heat source, it will evaporate quicker, adding more moisture into the air.
Take Out Your Contacts When Possible
Wearing contact lenses can also increase dryness and irritation. When possible, use a pair of glasses to give your eyes some relief. And definitely take your contacts out at night.
Consult With Your Local Colorado Springs Eye Doctor
Dealing with dry eyes in the winter can be difficult and frustrating, but you can still enjoy the season by giving your eyes the care they need. After giving these tips a try, if you are still struggling with symptoms, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. Spectrum Eye Care has a team of compassionate eye care specialists, and we look forward to helping you find a solution that works for you.