Surviving Winter Dry Eyes
Our optometrists are here to help you battle winter dry eyes!
Although not as common as in other parts of Canada, Vancouver is no stranger to snowstorms, and it is clear that Vancouverites need to prepare for colder temperatures in the winter. Other than switching to our Sorels and snow tires, we will have to add a few more things to our arsenal to make the winter transition easier. Battle the cold induced dryness by lining your pockets with eye drops and chapstick.
Winter in Vancouver brings changes in temperature and humidity. The cold air causes our blood vessels to constrict and for moisture to evaporate. The protective coating on the surface of your skin, lips, and eyes are all connected.
If you have dry skin, you will have winter dry eyes. This means that your tear film, on the surface of your eyes, will be thinner than usual and can trigger a stinging sensation. Dry eyes can cause reflexive tearing which leads to watery eyes — your tear glands go into overdrive, leaving us with excessive tearing but eyes that still feel dry and irritated.
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes – Tip 1: Use Eye Drops
At Real Eyes Optometry, our doctors recommend using eye drops to relieve winter dry eye symptoms like stinging and watery eyes. If you find that you are using them too frequently or that they don’t give you relief, talk to us about Radio Frequency treatments which are a proven, long-term solution for dry eyes.
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes Tip 2: Using a Warm Compress
Your dry eyes can be caused by a variety of reasons. Visitng your local eye doctor is the best way to get an appropriate diagnosis.
If clogged oil glands (evaporative dry eye) is your problem, using a warm compress over your closed eyes every morning and night can help with oil production. An increase in oil in your tears will help prevent your tears from evaporating. A healthy tear film will result in more comfort and better vision.
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes Tip 3: Choose the Correct Type of Contact Lenses
Talk to your optometrist about switching to a brand of contact lenses that are most effective in maintaining the moisture levels in your eyes. Finding the correct lens curvature, material, and coatings will ensure a proper fit and this will help prevent dry eye symptoms while providing excellent vision and comfort. Need help finding the right contact lenses for you? Check our our Top 3 Optometrist Picks & Tips
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes Tip 4: Take Breaks From Your Screen
Spending your day working in front of a screen and then enjoying downtime watching movies and playing games on a screen can exacerbate dry eyes, particularly in the winter if you are in a room with a heater on. Remember to take breaks from your screen time and choose to wear glasses over contacts when you have a chance.
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes Tip 5: Use a Humidifier
Having a humidifier can balance indoor heaters by adding moisture to the dry air. Use one where you spend the most time, such as your bedroom and office. It should help hydrate your skin and eyes.
Surviving Winter Dry Eyes Tip 6: Protect Your Eyes When Outdoors
We are lucky to have mountains nearby in Vancouver. Just be aware that it can be extra bright in the winter when there is snow outside. The reflective qualities of snow can send more UV rays into your eyes, causing snow blindness also known as photokeratitis. Severe cold temperatures and winter dry eyes can also play a part, making photokeratitis more common in higher elevations. Protect your eyes from UV and the cold by wearing sunglasses or goggles when outdoors in the winter.
- Wear a close-fitting mask when doing winter sports: This prevents moisture from your mouth and nose from reaching your lenses and causing them to fog. Balaclavas and neck warmers work well by protecting you from the winter cold.
- Clean your glasses/goggles with anti-fog wipes: Keep lenses clean, as dirt and smudges provide more for condensation to cling to.
Are There Long-Term Effects of Cold Weather to My Vision?
Spending long periods of time outdoors in cold temperatures can lead to dry eyes and blurry vision. In extreme cases, you may even start seeing double. Freezing eyes can lead to serious problems. If you are experiencing eye pain, intense sensitivity to light, blurred vision or feeling like there is something in your eye, please contact an optometrist right away.