What do you call it when your eyes seem to be watery, especially in Winter? Well, Winter Dry Eyes of course. Your eyes are a fascinating and complicated part of your body, and while it seems that tears running down your face during a cold and windy winter could be called almost anything except “dry eyes,” there’s a very good chance that is the case. So why is this condition called Dry Eyes (or Dry Eyes Syndrome)? The simple answer to this mystery is that if your tears aren’t doing the job that your eyes need to stay healthy and hydrated — especially during the cold winter months, your body will make more of them. But to fully understand this, you need to know a bit more about what tears do and what’s in your tears. We’ll also discuss other causes and symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome, how to know if you have Dry Eye Syndrome and the treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome, especially in Winter.
What Do Tears Do?
Your eyes are a very sensitive part of your body and they need to be well taken care of. Your tears are an important part of that process. That’s because tears…
- Keep your eyes healthy. Tears contain Antibodies and special proteins
- Help your eyes self-clean, making it easier to remove dust and debris
- Lubricate your eyes so your eyelids can move easily
What Are Tears Made Of?
Many people think that tears are made only of water, but that’s not the case at all. Tears are mostly a sandwich of fluids. There’s a thin layer of oil on the bottom that lays on the sclera and cornea. Above that is a thin layer of water, and that’s all topped off with another layer of oil. Within that mixture is mucus, lipids, antibodies and special proteins.
Winter Dry Eyes
You may think that Winter Dry Eyes are mostly a problem when you are outside during cold and windy days, but being inside seldom brings relief. That’s because inside, you’ll be exposed to furnaces and heaters whose heat dries the indoor air, making your Dry Eyes even worse.
Symptoms of Winter Dry Eyes can include itchy eyes, redness and blurred vision, but one of the most common symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome is excessive tearing, which are caused by your tears drying too quickly. Tears should remain on the eyes for between 5 to 10 seconds, but with Dry Eyes, the Tear Break-Up Time (TBUT) is much shorter and they evaporate much more quickly, sometimes almost immediately.
Sometimes, the eye has suffered so long with dry eyes that the eye goes into distress causing cells to die, making dry eyes even worse, causing pain and poor vision.
Both regular Dry Eye Syndrome and distressed eyes can be caused by low oil and mucus in your tears, which help to lubricate the eyes and also helps to prevent the tears from drying quickly. Other causes of dry eyes can be eyelid inflammation, aging and menopause.
How Do I know if I have Winter Dry Eye
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, then make an appointment with your eye doctor for an exam. But some patients have mild to moderate cases of dry eyes without knowing it. A regular eye exam will reveal this to both you and your doctor.
If Dry Eye Syndrome is suspected, your doctor may look at your eyes with a microscope and add green dye to your eyes. This dye, which is painless to the patient, makes the tears very easy to see. Take a look at the two photos on this page, which are from the same patient. Both photos show the quick evaporation or quick tear break-up time (TBUT) (the darker areas), but the eye on the left demonstrates more severe Dry Eye Syndrome compared to the eye on the right. Compromised or distressed cells glow bright green because the dye adheres to the dead cells more readily.
Winter Dry Eye Treatments
As with many general health conditions, changing your lifestyle can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of a disease or condition.
Winter Dry Eye Home Treatment
With Winter Dry Eyes, your self treatment options include…
- Stop Smoking — It may be more difficult during the cold Winter months when smoking brings the illusion of warmth to some people, but eliminating smoking and staying away from smokers will help to relieve some of the stress on your eyes.
- Change Your Environment — Do your best to stay out of windy and dry air outdoors, and dehumidified heated air indoors.
- Wearing Glasses or Goggles — Reduce the amount of moving air that can dry your eyes by wearing wraparound sunglasses or goggles.
- Change Your Diet — Eating foods more rich in Vitamins A, B12 and D can help, as will eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids. So will drinking more water.
- Over the Counter Eye Drops — There are a variety of over the counter eye drops that will help Winter Dry Eyes.
Winter Dry Eye Treatments From Your Doctor
If self treatment doesn’t help, your eye doctor can advise you on other treatments, which may include…
- Prescription Eye Drops — Restasis and Xiidra help to reduce inflammation and restore the tear balance.
- Prescription Allergy Eye Drops — If your Dry Eyes are year-round and caused by allergies, these may help.
- Omega-3 Supplements — These fatty acids help to restore the oil and lipid layer in your tears.
- Scleral Contact Lenses — Scleral lenses rest on the whites of your eyes and vault over the cornea, keeping a thin layer of special saline solution between the lens and your eye, helping to keep your eyes lubricated and healthy.
Schedule Your Winter Dry Eyes Exam Today
Keeping your eyes healthy is critical to being able to see clearly for your entire life. If you have any of the symptoms of Winter Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome year-round, or if you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule your eye exam today. Use our online appointment form, or call us at 818-891-6711.