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Dealing with Winter’s Dry Eyes

It is that time of the year again when we feel the effects of our Dry Minnesota air. Our skin itches, our lips get chapped, and yes, even our eyes dry out. It seems that no one is immune to it. Why is it that our eyes tend to feel sandy, burn, and water when they are too dry? What is causing this and what can we do about it?
While it is true that anyone can experience dry eyes, the most frequent sufferers are women, those who stare at computers for several hour each day, and contact lens wearers.

Every year we age, our eyes produce fewer tears. The quality of those tears can be compromised by hormonal changes, the environment, contact lens wear and our diet. For example, when we stare at our computers our blink rate drops about 50%, making it difficult to keep our eyes moist. With time, the eyes respond by turning red, burning and producing a watery tear that runs down your cheek.

Since this tearing lacks the appropriate mixture to lubricate the eyes, the cycle continues.

While we cannot chance our birthday, we can make a few changes to manage dry eyes.

To start, drink more water, we all know it’s good for us. Here is yet another reason to keep that sport mug on hand.

Aim car heaters below your shoulders to reduce tear evaporation.

For contact lens wearers with late day discomfort, it may be time to try a new brand of lens. The Total 1 Daily lens, Ultra lens, and the new Acuvue Vita lens, to name a few are all made with built-in wetting agents to enhance comfort.

For those who prefer natural remedies, flaxseed or omega 3 supplements can relive symptoms of dry eye.

Over the counter artificial tears such as Optive, Refresh, or Systane can safely be used as needed.

If symptoms still persist seek the advice of your eye care provider who may prescribe Restasis, an eye drop which can increase tear production, or insert a plug into the eye’s tear duct to block tear outflow.

If you feel as if you are losing the battle against dry eyes, you are not alone. Dry Eye syndrome is a chronic condition, but with the help of your eye doctor it can be controlled.

Don’t spend one more day with thirsty eyes.