With cold weather right around the corner, its important that you do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. From chapped lips to influenza, there’s plenty of changes you have to make to keep yourself in tip-top shape. So, while you know to cover your cough and wash your hands frequently, what should you do if you’re dealing with itchy, irritated eyes?
There are many reasons why you may be dealing with unpleasant symptoms related to dry eyes. Read on to figure out what’s causing yours and how to help treat it.
1. Air quality
This is a no-brainer. You go from harsh chill and bitter wind to the indoors, with blowing heat. Both of these can be factors in drying out your eyes, making you feel like there’s “grit.” This gives you the urge to rub. Avoid rubbing your eyes if you can! While the temporary pressure may feel good, it is a fleeting solution that may cause more harm than good. Rubbing too vigorously can tear at your already sensitive skin, as well as cause problems for the structure of your eyeball. Instead, grab some over-the-counter eye drops. There is nothing wrong with using these temporarily, but avoid prolonged usage. Always follow the directions on your eye drops carefully.
2. Nutrition or Diet
Make sure you avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking straight-up water. You’d be surprised what a difference this may make for you, as many Americans today suffer from chronic dehydration. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables will not only help keep you hydrated as well, but they will give you nutrients essential to eye health. Get antioxidants from leafy greens or avocados, essential fatty acids from cold-water fish, and zinc from a variety of whole grains or nuts. If all else fails, add a daily supplement or vitamin to get those essentials. All of this will help ensure you have hydrated, happy eyes.
Both smoking and being around second-hand smoke will contribute to dry eye symptoms. People are more likely to opt to smoke indoors because of the cold temperatures. If possible, choose to kick the habit, or only smoke in well-ventilated areas.
4. Too Much Screen Time
While we’re all guilty of using our electronics now more than ever, its particularly common as the temperature drops - without outdoor entertainment, we turn to Netflix and video games. Unfortunately, this means more harmful blue light directed at our eyeballs. If possible, keep track of your screen time and limit yourself. Opt to read books or take up a new hobby instead. If limiting screen time isn’t an option (Stranger Things Season 2 did just premiere...), make sure you sit far enough away from the TV, and give your eyes a break - especially when using mobile devices. Generally, a good rule is 20 - 20 -20 : for every 20 minutes spent on a screen, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will keep your eyes rested and hydrated...and will remind you to blink while exploring Hyrule in Breath of the Wild.
5. Disease or Condition
There’s a chance that your chronic eye disease is more than just winter weather. It may be a serious condition, such as thyroid disorders or diabetes. If you’ve changed medicines due to a condition you already know of, that could be a contributing factor, too. If your dry eye becomes a chronic issue, it is important that you reach out to your general practitioner or optometrist in order to get to the source of the problem. Early treatment is vital in avoiding complications for many conditions, so schedule an appointment as soon as you notice something amiss.