If you’ve been having dry, itchy eyes already this winter, it’s often a product of the weather. The cold air has very little moisture during the winter making it harder on both your skin and eyes. Also, humidity often drops as well during the winter making it even harder on your eyes to produce the fluid they need to stay lubricated.
However, while it can be irritating, there are more than a few solutions to help treat this condition.
How to Treat Dry Itchy Eyes
Artificial tears (aka lubricating eyedrops) are one of the easiest ways to treat dry eyes. They are sold over-the-counter, but be mindful that some of these contain preservatives. These can potentially irritate your eyes so be on the lookout for eyedrops for dry eyes that are preservative-free.
Naturally, if the humidity is low during the winter, one way to bring it back is through a humidifier for your home. This will help lubricate your eyes and can provide relief. Just be mindful that some humidifiers are only rated to work best in certain size spaces so you may need to get a more powerful one if you have a larger space.
Warm compresses on your eyes several times a day can also provide relief. However, if you’re having to do this consistently it’s a good idea to see an optometrist as there may be related to another eye health issue.
How to Prevent Dry Itchy Eyes
Lower Your Exposure to Warm and Cold Air Drafts
It’s difficult to avoid warm air in winter, especially since it can offer relief from the cold, but standing near drafts or fans for too long can definitely make your eyes dry. Therefore, avoid this when possible and spending too long outside on windy days.
Protect Your Eyes With Sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses can help protect your eye on windier days when you need to be outside. However, bear in mind that they can only help with wind, the outdoor humidity may still be an issue that causes dry eyes.
Take a Screen Break
We spend more time than ever in front of a screen, so taking a break for a short or extended period of time can help. The 20-20-20 rule can help with this. After 20 minutes of looking at a screen, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 ft away. This can help your eyes readjust throughout the day and avoid getting too tired.
When to See an Optometrist
If your dry itchy eyes aren’t going away after a couple of days using treatments like artificial tears or warm compresses, it’s a good idea to visit an optometrist. They may prescribe prescription eye drops, or pinpoint the main issue that’s causing your dry eyes and offer another treatment for it.
Overall, dry, itchy eyes are very common in winter and not cause for immediate concern if you notice them.