Winter season is the driest time of the year. So today, I'm talking about how to keep your dry eyes happy during the winter season. Most of us are spending the winter days indoors.
Winter is Dry Eye Season
Outdoors the air is dry. The temperature is cold to freezing. Generally, there's not a lot of humidity. It could be windy. The days are short and there's less sunlight inside. Inside it's dry, hot with artificial heat and fire places. Smoke and scents from candles can be very irritating to sensitive eyes.
What are the two things that you can do to help your eyes feel more moist?
The air quality can really irritate your eyes since you're spending lots of time in these dry environments. Utilize a humidifier to add soothing moisture to the air surrounding your eyes.
Humidifiers Help Winter Dry Eyes
Enhance the environment where you're spending the most time by adding a humidifier. Whether you use a warm mist or a cool mist humidifier, they will put moisture into the air. And, the temperature of the air is the same by the time it reaches your lungs. It's not that important to distinguish between a warm mist or a cool mist humidifier. Getting the moisture into the air is the key.
Warm mist humidifiers are a little easier to use because the heat kills the bacteria that might otherwise accumulate in the sitting water. It's less of an effort to keep it clean. And, it's a bit easier to use in the winter time, because you want the warmth as well.
If you are using a cool mist humidifier, there are some benefits to this one, too. Cool mist humidifiers are more quiet. And, they're safer to use when you have kids running around that might dump it over and burn themselves.
Place the humidifier in the area that you're spending the most time. Use it in the bedroom while you're sleeping. Then, move it into the living room or the office, wherever you are spending your day time. Desktop size humidifiers are also available that you can place next to your desk and feel that comfortable moisture around your eyes all day long while you work.
Air Quality Matters for Dry Eyes
The other thing to consider is the quality of the air. Since you're spending a bit more time indoors, you want to make sure that you have a filter in your home or office that is removing particles, dirt, dust, and debris. Consider getting a high efficiency particle absorbing (HEPA) filter or an air purifier.
HEPA filters remove allergens, smoke, mold, odors, dust, and germs. And while you're spending this more time indoors, go ahead and vacuum our dust regularly to remove those from the air. Any irritants in your air can significantly irritate an eye that is already dry. Filtering these particles can keep your eyes feeling more comfortable.
Candles can Irritate Dry Eyes
And, just a note about candles. The smoke from scented candles could be irritating to your eyes as well. Make sure you are not sitting next to one for long periods of time. Even small amounts of smoke can irritate already sensitive dry eyes.
Of course, you may be also using extra heaters. In my office at work, I have a small heater to keep my office a little bit warmer. And, it really does dry my eyes out. I have to be very conscientious about making sure that that warm air, although it feels so great, is not blowing up towards my eyes.
Place the heater a few feet from where you are sitting. It is important that the air does not blow directly into your face. Adjust the heater to your back instead of in front of you. If you can alter the vent, make sure it is blowing away or down.
I love a good fire in the wintertime, but that smoke can be super irritating to your eyes. It might not irritate you in the moment, but you could notice that your eyes will be extra red, scratchy, dry and irritated for several days after being in contact with a fireplace. Limit the amount of time you spend in a smoky area. Rinse your eyes out immediately with preservative-free artificial tears after being in near a fireplace. And, try to turn your face away from smoke blowing directly into it. I covered a ton of tips on fireplaces in this blog.
Dry eyes can feel worse during the dry eye season. But, you don't need to suffer from your dry eyes. Add moisture to the indoor air by adding a humidifier to the room you are spending the most time in.
Keep irritants out of your indoor air by changing your air filters to a high efficiency particle absorbing (HEPA) filter. You can also dust and vacuum more to keep extra particles out of the air.
Avoid having heat from heaters or fire places blow directly into your eyes. Adjust the vent or position yourself to have the warm air blow to your back or feet.
If you do get caught in a dry or smoky situation. Use some extra artificial tears to rinse your eyes as soon as you can. Check out the guide to artificial tears if you don't know which to use.