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6 Tips for Managing Winter Dry Eye

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Going from the cold, winter temperatures outside to the inside warmth each day can cause uncomfortable physical changes in your skin and eyes. In fact, winter dry eye can become a long-term issue that you need to manage effectively to protect your eye health.

At Mission Viejo Optometric Center, Dr. Lau and Dr. Farson offer effective solutions for treating dry eye all year around, especially in the winter.

Understanding dry eye

In a healthy eye, a film of tears fans out over your eyes each time you blink. This film ensures your vision is nice and clear and your eyes are well-moisturized.

Dry eye is a condition that occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears, or the right type of tears, to moisturize and protect your eyes.

Dry eye can be the result of a number of underlying medical conditions, including a thyroid disorder or inflammation in the eye, known as blepharitis.  You can develop dry eye syndrome from your environment, especially when around smoke, wind, or in dry climates.

Chronic dry eye may be the result of the natural aging process or may occur after you’ve had certain eye surgeries, including LASIK.

As a result of eye dryness, you may frequently feel symptoms like:

  • Eye burning
  • Eye redness
  • Gritty sensation in the eye

Dry eye can make it difficult for you to wear contact lenses comfortably, and you may also have difficulties with blurry vision.

Tips for managing dry eye in winter

Because of the temperature changes in winter, you may need to take special precautions when it comes to your eye health. Tips for managing winter dry eye include:

1. Get a winter checkup.

If you notice dry eye symptoms developing, it’s best to check in with Dr. Lau and Dr. Farson before those symptoms get worse. Dry eye symptoms can be similar to other eye conditions, and it’s important that you’re properly diagnosed with dry eye before you can effectively manage the condition.

2. Ask about eye drops.

There’s an array of eye drops available over-the-counter that claim to keep your eyes moisturized for hours at a time. Before using any product in your eye, consult with Dr. Farson and Dr. Lau to determine which one is best for your condition.

Preservative-free artificial tears are a great choice for many. You should use caution and avoid brands that promote reducing eye redness, as they can actually worsen dry eye symptoms.

3. Avoid direct heat.

Staying warm in the cold months of winter requires that you turn on the heat. When you’re at home or in your car, try to stay away from the direct flow of heat that can dry out your eyes. If possible, point your heat source away from your body, especially your eyes.

4. Consider a humidifier.

Because of the heat you’re using to keep warm, you may want to consider investing in a humidifier to add lost moisture back into the air. Humidifiers are available in a number of sizes to fit conveniently in your living room or office to prevent your eyes from drying out during the day.

5. Eat for your eyes.

Consuming foods, like fish, that contain omega-3 fatty acids, you can improve your gland health to produce higher quality tears. Though it can take a while for supplements or foods added to your diet to make a difference, eating right can improve your overall long-term eye health.

6. Ditch old makeup.

Old eye makeup products and those that claim to be long-lasting can affect the oils on your eye surface. Additionally, using abrasive eye makeup remover products can also impact the necessary oils that keep your eyes moisturized. Instead, try opting for more natural products, like coconut oil, to remove stubborn makeup each night before bed.

Managing dry eye, especially in the winter, takes active participation. However, if you follow these tips and ensure your eyes are in good health through routine checkups, you can keep your eyes clear and bright all year long.

Learn more about dry eye and your treatment options by calling Mission Viejo Optometric Center, or use the online booking feature today.


Written by Dr. Tanya Lau

Dr. Tanya Lau of Mission Viejo Optometric Center in Mission Viejo, California was born and raised in San Francisco and has been living in Southern California since 2012. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and double majored in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and Psychology. She earned her doctorate in optometry at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum in 2016. She completed her professional internships at Lawton Indian Health Hospital in Oklahoma, Palo Alto Veteran Affairs in California, and Camp Zama United States Armed Forces in Japan.
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