For most of us, trying to stay warm in the winter means cozy blankets, big sweaters, and enjoying the benefits of indoor heating. But the use of heaters, as lovely as they are, can contribute to dry eye symptoms.
Dry eye symptoms can be uncomfortable and can prevent you from participating in activities that you enjoy. Here are a few ways that you can protect your eyes in the winter and reduce your need for dry eye treatment.
The hot, dry air from heating vents or space heaters can severely irritate your eyes, particularly if you wear contact lenses. To avoid suffering from dry eyes, try not to sit directly in front of a space heater or the heating vents in your home.
Heaters, specifically car heaters, can cause dry eyes due to the dry environment they create and the proximity of the blowing air to the eyes. Moreover, the heat leads the tears to evaporate, leaving the eyes unprotected.
You can also redirect the heating vents in your car so that they aren’t blowing directly on your face. If you do wear contact lenses, you may want to switch to eyeglasses when you’re at home with the heater on.
How does it affect you?
Infrared (IR) heaters emit a type of radiation that is much different from the radiation associated with x-ray machines or germicidal light bulbs. Some of the properties of IR radiation (IRR) are similar to the properties of visible light; however, your eyes cannot see IRR. IR heaters will not heat up a room or the air within that room.
The IRR mostly passes through the air, not heating the air but will heat other materials such as furniture or your body. This heating, if extreme, can cause fires or dangerous skin burns.
Furthermore, since the eye blocks the IRR, the eye begins to overheat leading to eye damage and possible blindness. Because of this, you should not look at the heater for an extended period of time.
If you run a heater regularly in your home, it will reduce the moisture of your indoor air. This can make your eyes irritated, itchy, and dry.
To restore moisture to your indoor air, you can buy a humidifier. Humidifiers release water vapor or steam into the air to make it more humid.
You can also install a central humidifier in your home’s heating unit to humidify your entire house and combat dry air and dry, itchy eyes.
Lubricant drops are prescribed to reduce dryness. Anti-inflammatory medicines help too. If you find symptoms, visit an ophthalmologist. Your doctor will check the severity of dryness of the eyes and treat you accordingly.
You can also maintain body hydration by consuming more fluids (for example: water, juices, and milk). Avoid drinking too much coffee or tea. The minimum recommended fluid intake is 2.5-3 litres per day.