Why Are My Eyes So Dry in the Winter?

man skiing in sunglasses

It’s no secret that eye protection is essential throughout the summer months, but did you know that this is also important during the winter, too? As temperatures drop, our eyes are exposed to dry air and other extreme conditions, making dry eye symptoms extremely common.

Fortunately, there are many measures you can take to protect your eyes during the winter months. Know what precautions to take to maintain your eye health and avoid symptoms like red, itchy eyes as cold weather moves in. Here are the top tips to prevent dry eyes in the winter months.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes in Winter

Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when our eyes do not produce tears properly due to an imbalance of oil, water and mucus. Some symptoms you might experience include burning, stinging, and a scratchy feeling in your eyes. You may also have blurry vision, eye fatigue, redness, or stringy mucus in or around your eyes.

Other dry eye symptoms include watering eyes, increased sensitivity to light, and feeling like there is something in your eyes. Dry eye can be painful, but there are several treatment options to minimize symptoms.

Use Saline Eye Drops

During winter months when exposed to cold, dry wind and air, your eyes are more likely to dry out and become irritated. Dry eye symptoms can also occur as your furnace or heating system runs during the winter, which removes the moisture from the air in your home.

It is important to keep red eye drops handy during the colder months of the year to soothe your irritated eyes as needed. While no single brand works best for all forms of dry eye, some of the best over-the-counter brands include Systane Ultra, Refresh Optive, Soothe XP and GenTeal Tears Lubricant Eye Gel.

Apply eye drops once each morning or before going to bed in the evening. This daily process will help your eyes become more lubricated and eliminate painful symptoms. Using a heated eye mask for dry eyes is also a proven remedy to eliminate symptoms of the condition.

Use Eye Protection

If you plan to hit the slopes this winter, eye protection is a must. As elevation increases, so does the sun’s intensity. Be sure to wear polarized, UV-blocking goggles to protect your eyes from the harsh sunlight at higher altitudes.

Polarized lenses will also help eliminate the harmful glare from the snow. These lenses can be crucial in protecting your eyes from the dreaded “snow blindness,” which is a sunburn on your eyes and damaging to your retina.

Glasses and goggles should also be worn for protection from chill winds that can cause your eyes to become dehydrated. Stay hydrated when spending time outdoors in extreme temperatures when humidity is low to avoid dry eye symptoms.

Protect Eyes From UV Rays

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can increase your risk of developing cataracts and other eye conditions, especially as you age. UV rays don’t go away during the winter months, so it is important to continue wearing protective gear like sunglasses and hats to prevent dry eye and other vision problems.

If you’re spending time outdoors, especially near a body of water such as a lake, pool or ocean, wear protection against the reflection of sunlight to avoid additional UV exposure. Whether it is sunny or cloudy outside, don’t leave the house without your sunglasses this winter.

As the colder months approach, take the necessary steps to protect your eyes from harmful conditions like dry, itchy eyes. At Florida Eye Specialists, our team of experienced eye care specialists is here to provide you with the advanced care and effective treatment you need for conditions like dry eye and more. Schedule an appointment today!