If you have chronic dry eye, you likely experience itchy, scratchy, watery eyes on a regular basis.
While you may know some of the common causes of these symptoms (such as contact lens use), there are other activities you could be unaware of that might worsen the condition.
Not only is chronic dry eye very uncomfortable but it can also have long-term effects on a person’s eye health. For instance, corneal scarring may lead to blurred vision.
By familiarizing yourself with activities that contribute to chronic dry eye, you can prevent further complications of the condition and live a more comfortable life.
A big burst of air, no matter where it comes from, can dry out your eyes. It’s in your best interest to avoid any environment where air may blow directly in your face, whether it’s from a strong ceiling fan or an air conditioner.
To help lower your risk for irritation, avoid falling asleep with the fan or AC on. Also avoid sitting directly underneath these appliances.
If you’re looking for a reason to air-dry your hair, here’s one: Using a blow dryer can further contribute to dry eye.
The warm, dry air it emits can cause moisture to evaporate from the eye, resulting in worsening symptoms.
If you’re on the move and need to dry wet hair, try to at least reduce the amount of time you spend using your blow dryer. For instance, dry the roots and let the rest of your hair air-dry.
Smoking can lead to chronic dry eye.
This is because tobacco smoke
Additionally, smoking has been shown to have many long-lasting effects on the eyes, including increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
You don’t have to be a smoker to be affected by smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can be harmful as well.
From hot to cold, temperature extremes can have a significant effect on your eyes.
Very hot temperatures (especially when there’s no humidity) can cause moisture to evaporate from your eyes.
According to a 2016 study, 42 percent of people with dry eye reported that heat triggered their symptoms. Sixty percent stated that sunshine was a trigger.
The study also concluded that very cold weather can dry out your eyes, with 34 percent of respondents saying that freezing temperatures aggravated their dry eye symptoms.
Findings from a 2010 study suggest that cold temperatures may thicken the meibum, the oily outer layer of tears. As a result, the protective tears may not spread across the eye as easily.
Keeping your environment as temperate controlled as possible can help to reduce the incidence of dry eyes.
You may also wish to use a humidifier, which will help increase moisture in the air and reduce the effects of very dry atmospheres.
If you’re going to be somewhere with strong winds, try to wear wraparound sunglasses. The all-around protection of this type of eyewear will prevent the wind from reaching your eyes and drying them out.
While a cool breeze may feel good against your skin, it may not feel as good on your eyes.
In addition to drying them out, keeping the windows down while driving can also increase your risk for getting small pieces of debris or dirt in your eyes.
If you must drive or ride in a car with the windows down, again, try wearing wraparound sunglasses.
You may also wish to keep some artificial tears on hand that you can apply before and after your trip.
Using a computer can worsen dry eyes for many reasons.
A person naturally blinks less while looking at a computer.
Without regular blinking, your eyes become drier than they already are.
The glare of the computer monitor can also affect your vision, causing you to squint more to read the computer screen. As a result, your eyes may feel both tired and dry.
If you use a computer for work or school, it’s important to take the necessary steps to minimize dry eye related to computer use. Try these tips:
- Make an effort to blink more frequently when you’re looking at the computer.
- Look away from a computer screen about every 15 minutes. Looking at a faraway point can help to relax the eyes.
- Keep eye drops in your work desk or another easily accessible location. Apply frequently throughout the day.
- Take breaks whenever possible to help to reduce the effects that computer use has on your eyes. You don’t even need to leave your desk — just opening and closing your eyes can help alleviate dry eye.