Are your eyes dry, gritty, and itchy at home or in the office? Air conditioning may be to blame.

AC can dry out the air and reduce humidity levels. This in turn causes evaporative dry eyes.

In addition to the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes, you may find it difficult to work well or concentrate in an air-conditioned room. But there are effective ways to prevent dry eyes due to AC and ease the symptoms.

Read on to discover all about air conditioning and your eyes.

Can Air Conditioning Cause Dry Eyes?

Yes, it can. Your eyes need a certain level of moisture from the air around you to produce tears. Using air-con units lowers humidity levels. This interrupts the tear film production. As a result, your tears dry out quickly, leading to evaporative dry eye.

Low humidity levels and cool temperatures also affect your meibomian glands. These glands produce the oil in your tear film. If not enough oil is not secreted, your tears evaporate faster.

What’s more, dusty AC ducts may harbor molds and bacteria. These can cause eye inflammation and infection, making your dry eye symptoms even worse.

Symptoms of AC Dry Eye

Symptoms of dry eyes due to air conditioning are more or less the same as regular dry eye symptoms.

You will have dry and gritty eyes, irritation, redness, and stinging sensations. You may also experience excessive watering. Some people also link air conditioning with burning eyes.

closeup of human eye grayscale

Using air conditioning can trigger these symptoms. Once you switch it off, they may go away.

Here are all the major dry eye symptoms you may experience in an air-conditioned space.

  • Eye dryness when exposed to an air-conditioned room
  • Difficulty blinking
  • Gritty and sandy feeling in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness
  • Irritation and itchiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Stinging and burning sensations
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Excessive tearing when exposed to a space with air conditioning
  • A scratchy feeling in the eye
  • Eye fatigue and difficulty focusing
  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
  • Your eyes hurt from the air conditioner

Managing AC Dry Eye

Air conditioning and dry eyes are interlinked, that much is clear. But there are several steps you can take to mitigate the effects of AC on your eyes.

You can add a humidifier to your office or home, drink plenty of water during the day, eat healthy, and regulate and clean your AC.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the measures you can take to soothe eye dryness due to air conditioning.

Add a Humidifier

This is a simple solution to add more humidity to the air while using air conditioning. Humidifiers can help prevent eye dryness. Plus, they can reduce symptoms of inflammation, grittiness, and excessive tearing.

Humidifiers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from portable desk humidifiers you can plug into your computer’s USB port to portable units that can humify a whole floor.

Tip: If you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, you can also keep a container filled with water in your room. The water will slowly evaporate and increase the overall humidity levels.

Use Wetting Drops

Eye drops can provide some relief for dry eye symptoms, though they don’t cure the underlying cause of the condition. You can pick over-the-counter drops or ask your eye doctor for prescription drops.

Choose eye drops without preservatives, wash your hands before applying them, store them properly, and don’t overuse them.

Keep Yourself Hydrated and Eat Healthy

Maintaining an adequate fluid intake throughout the day is one of the best ways to combat dry eyes due to AC. Drink lots of water. Sugar-free juices, smoothies, and herbal teas can also help keep you hydrated.

woman in striped shirt holding laptop and reusable water bottle

At the same time, eat a nutritious diet. According to a 2013 study, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve eye dryness. To increase your omega-3 fatty acids intake naturally, add nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, and plant oils to your diet.

Take an Eye Health Supplement

Vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies can affect the activity of your tear glands and the quality of your tear film. They can make you more prone to dry eye disease and worsen symptoms.

Eating nutritious food is crucial to keeping your eyes healthy. A plant-based eye health supplement like SightC from SightSage can also help supply your eyes with valuable nutrients.

SightC is packed with lutein, zeaxanthin, antioxidants, and phytonutrients from goji berries and other antioxidants.

Learn more about SightC.

Don’t Overuse Your AC and Clean It Regularly

To better manage dry eye symptoms, avoid overusing air conditioning. Turn it off when not in use. This will make it easier to maintain healthy humidity levels in your home. Also, set the AC at room temperature to reduce the quick evaporation of tears.

Next, clean your air conditioning unit regularly. The ducts and vents of your AC are prone to mold and bacteria formation. This can lead to infection and inflammation in the eye, making your dry eyes worse.

Plan ahead regular AC cleaning days so you won’t forget about it. If you don’t have time for it, hire a professional service to do it for you. It’s money well spent.

air conditioning unit under window smothered in green vegetation

Air Conditioning and Your Eyes: The Wrap Up

Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition. It may come with uncomfortable symptoms like grittiness in the eye and light sensitivity. But it’s not unmanageable, especially when the cause is air conditioning.

You can combat it by using a humidifier, keeping yourself hydrated, and properly maintaining your air-con unit.

You can also take other active steps to relieve dry eye. Avoid sitting right under the flow of air coming from the air-con unit. Blink often while working to keep your eyes moist and reduce your screen time.

Making lifestyle changes can also help ease eye dryness. Start by switching to eyeglasses from contact lenses when in an air-conditioned space. You can also eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, exercise daily, and consider taking an eye health supplement.

Follow these steps so you can keep on enjoying the comforts of air conditioning without having to endure dry eye symptoms.

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