young woman with blue eyes and long woolen sleeves touching her face with her hands

Why Do I Get Dry Eyes in Winter?

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Are your eyes dry and gritty in winter? You’re not the only one.

Cold temperatures can aggravate dry eye symptoms. What’s more, the use of indoor heating systems to combat the cold only worsens those symptoms.

But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with dry eye symptoms. In this post, we’ll run you through some effective ways to treat winter dry eyes. We’ll also share some tips on how to prevent dry eyes in the first place.

First, though, take a look at why you get dry eyes in winter.

Causes of Dry Eyes in Winter

Dry eyes worsen in winter. Cold temperatures and wind both dry the surface of your eyes. As a result, your eyes feel dried out and gritty more often when you step outside in winter.

What’s more, as the temperature drops, the air becomes drier. This can increase tear evaporation, causing your eyes to lose moisture very quickly. You may even have watery eyes to counterbalance the dryness.

Additionally, the use of indoor heating in winter can expose your eyes to dry heat. Overuse of hairdryers in winter to quickly dry your hair can further explain why dry eye occurs more often during the coldest season of the year.

Dry Eyes in Winter Symptoms

Dry eye symptoms in winter are generally more pronounced. Blame it on the weather outside and the heating systems inside. Here are some common symptoms of dry eyes you are likely to experience in winter.

  • Dry and sandy eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Soreness and pain in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness and irritation
  • Burning or stinging sensations
  • Vision changes
  • Excessive watering of eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Eyestrain during focused tasks like computer use, driving, and reading
  • Eyes sensitive to cold air

young woman standing in light snow storm

Dry Eyes in Winter Treatment

Dry eyes can make your mornings and nights uncomfortable. But you don’t have to sit back and endure the symptoms. Here are some effective dry eyes winter remedy tips that can bring you relief.

Apply a Warm Compress

Applying a warm compress is not just soothing for your eyes. It helps stimulate your oil glands and increase oil production. This stabilizes your tear film, promotes healthier tears, and improves eye dryness.

You can simply place a warm washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes and repeat the process. Only, make sure it’s not too hot to touch.

Good to know: Dry eyes can also lead to muscle spasms. Applying a warm compress can relax the muscles around your eyes and reduce twitching.

Use Indoor Humidifiers

During winter, the air circulating in your home is generally dry and cold. This can further aggravate your eye dryness. Use a room humidifier in winter to lessen dry eyes symptoms.

Indoor humidifiers add moisture to the air. As a result, your tears will evaporate more slowly, keeping your eyes well-lubricated and comfortable. This is especially beneficial for people who sit in front of a computer all day, a study shows.

Tip: While buying the right room humidifier, consider the humidifier’s size, portability, and brand reputation.

Use Tear Duct Plugs

A tear duct plug or punctal plug is a tiny silicon device the size of a rice grain. It’s inserted in the openings of your tear ducts to block tears from draining. This helps keep your eyes moist and relieve dryness.

Punctal plugs are either temporary (dissolving) or semi-permanent. Before inserting them, your doctor will use anesthesia to numb your tear ducts. You may feel some pressure at first, but you’ll be able to relax right away.

Massage Your Eyes

An eyelid massage is a great way to relieve eye strain and dryness. Apply gentle pressure to your eyelids to liquefy clogged oil glands, improve blood circulation, and release muscle tension.

You can start by pressing the inner corners of your eyes. Next, gently pinch your eyelid to release stagnant oils. Finally, relieve pressure from your temples for complete relaxation.

Take an Eye Health Supplement

Dry sore eyes in winter can also be a result of your diet lacking in certain nutrients. If that’s the case, consider taking supplements for dry eyes to better manage your symptoms.

Vitamins A, D, and B12 are essential for a healthy, stable tear film. Omega-3 supplements also help improve dry eye symptoms, like burning eyes, blurry vision, and gritty sensations, according to a 2015 study.

You can also nourish your eyes with sugar-free Blueberry Gummies from Sightsage. Made with Canadian blueberries and sweetened with monk fruit, these gummies are loaded with antioxidants and other phytonutrients that support vision in the digital age.

Blueberries have a host of eye health benefits including protecting your eyes from oxidative stress and inhibiting inflammation.

Taste the delicious Blueberry Gummies.

How to Prevent Dry Eyes in Winter

Preventing dry eyes is better than having to treat them. You have a long list of preventive measures you can put into practice. Even small steps, like blinking often and drinking plenty of water, can work wonders for your dry eyes.

woman with hat and round sunglasses against snow covered urban background

  • Wear wraparound sunglasses – Sunglasses, especially wraparounds, can keep your tears from drying out too quickly. They also protect from wind, dust, and UV rays. So keep a pair handy to get rid of dry eyes cold weather symptoms.
  • Blink often – Your blinking pattern changes while working on a computer or laptop. So you must consciously remind yourself to blink more often. This will help spread a layer of fresh tears over your eyes and lubricate them.
  • Keep yourself hydratedA 2015 study shows that dehydration is linked with dry eye disease. Your eyes need plenty of water to make a healthy, stable tear film.
  • Avoid air-conditioning and hair dryers – Warm air from air-cons and hair dryers can further contribute to dry eyes in winter. They reduce humidity and increase tear evaporation. Switch, if possible, to alternative heating systems that don’t affect humidity levels. And let your hair dry naturally.
  • Avoid contact lenses – Contact lenses absorb your tears to stay soft and shapely. Overusing them can make your eyes get dry in winter. Wear eyeglasses instead of contact lenses as much as possible.
  • Maintain eye hygiene – Use a warm, damp cloth to clean your eyelids and eyelashes. Also, remove any eye makeup before getting to bed. Proper eye hygiene can work wonders for extremely dry eyes in winter.
  • Quit smoking – People who smoke are more likely to have dry eyes than people who don’t, research shows. So, if you want to get rid of dry itchy eyes in winter, try and quit smoking.

The Wrap Up

Dry eyes in winter are common. If you have dry eyes every morning, you can blame the low humidity levels, cold wind, and indoor heating.

Some common symptoms you may face include excessive dryness, a sandy feeling in the eye, burning sensations, and light sensitivity. You may even find it difficult to focus on tasks like working on a computer, knitting, or driving.

To relieve these symptoms, apply a warm compress, use indoor humidifiers, massage your eyelids, use punctal plugs, and take oral supplements.

Lifestyle changes can also help prevent dry eyes. Blink often, wear wraparound sunglasses, drink plenty of water, maintain eye hygiene, and quit smoking.

Winter dry eyes can be annoying, but you don’t have to wait until spring to find relief. Start following our tips today.

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