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Dry Eyes in Winter

There is a common phrase thrown around Alberta in winter: “It’s a different kind of cold. It is a dry cold.” Our dry winter weather in Grande Prairie (and the rest of the prairies) takes a toll on our physical wellbeing in general. More specifically, it can have a negative effect on our eye health and wellbeing. Dry eyes are a common sign of cold weather, especially in climates such as ours.

Dry winter eyes can cause irritating symptoms and get in the way of our fun in the snow or on the ice. But with the right optometric care, your problematic dry eyes can be successfully managed so you can get back to enjoying the better parts of winter. This involves being aware of dry eye symptoms, being aware of other dry eye causes, and considering what time of year you book your annual eye exam.

Dry Eye Causes & Symptoms

Your eyes need moisture in order to function properly. And for your eyes, the moisture sources are your tear ducts. Dry eye occurs when your tear ducts are not producing enough tears (moisture). The symptoms can be annoying, but can also affect your quality of vision. And due to a number of factors, these symptoms can worsen in winter weather.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes
  • Discomfort in your eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • A stinging sensation
Other Causes for Dry Eyes

Cold weather, and seasonal variations in general, are shown to be a major cause of dry eyes, but there are more factors to consider for keeping your vision in a comfortable state:

  • Indoor heating: while it is an enormous blessing, indoor heating (especially when coupled with previous exposure to cold air) can cause dry eye symptoms to flare up
  • Dehydration: this may be more common in winter as the air dries out, so it is important for your eyes that you get your daily intake of water during even the coldest months
  • The aging process
  • UV exposure: and, with the sun’s high reflectivity from the snow, your exposure can increase in the winter months
Possible courses of management

As a Grande Prairie or northern Alberta resident, a possible first step to combatting dry eye in the winter is booking your annual eye exam during those colder months. Dry eye symptoms may be something you experience annually or seasonally, and a winter exam is an easy way to ensure dry eyes aren’t part of your winter. If you experience any irritating dry eye symptoms, book an appointment with your optometrist who can consider helpful medications or other courses of action.

Book your appointment with Grande Prairie Eye Care today to learn more about what may cause your eyes to itch, sting, or dry out in the cold.

Grande Prairie Eye Care • Last Update: Feb 03, 2022 • Originally published: Jun 07, 2022

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