Dry eye is when you experience itchy, scratchy, or watery eyes regularly. Some causes may include using a fan, low humidity, and cold temperatures, among others.

You may already be aware of some of the common triggers for your dry eye symptoms.

However, several activities could be worsening your condition without your realizing it.

Keep reading to learn more about 7 causes of dry eyes and how to prevent them.

Air conditioning and fans may help lower the temperature of a room and minimize sleep disturbances in hot environments.

However, fans and air conditioning may cause dry eyes. This may be due to the constant air circulation, as well as direct airflow contact.

To help reduce your dry eyes, especially at night, try avoiding an environment where mechanical air is blowing directly into your face.

For example, if you’re using a standing fan, turn it away from your face if it’s on a stationary, higher setting. If you want to feel the air in your face, turn it on a rotating, lower setting.

Using a blow dryer can contribute to dry eye.

The eye is protected by three layers of tear film that also helps lubricate it.

However, the warm, dry air from a blow dryer may affect your tear film. This can cause your tears to evaporate more quickly from the eye.

If you have chronic dry eye and need to use a blow dryer, try applying over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears before drying your hair. This may help increase the moisture in your eye and prevent it from drying out quickly.

Smoking can lead to chronic dry eye.

This is because tobacco smoke can be an irritant to the eyes and break down the protective, oily layer of tears.

Smoking has also been associated with long-lasting effects like an increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can be harmful, too.

Using a computer can worsen dry eyes for many reasons.

For instance, research suggests that using a screen can reduce the number of times you blink each minute by at least 50%. Blinking is vital to keeping your eyes moisturized.

Excess screen time may also reduce the stability of your tear film, which could increase dry eye symptoms.

If you use a computer for work or school, it’s important to take the necessary steps to minimize dry eye. These may include:

  • blinking more frequently when you’re looking at the computer
  • looking away from a computer screen to a faraway point every 15 minutes
  • using OTC eye drops
  • taking breaks from looking at the screen whenever possible, even if it’s just opening and closing your eyes

Q: Can glasses that block blue light help with dry eyes?

Anonymous

A: No scientific data suggests that blue light glasses help with dry eye or any other eye conditions.

Glasses that block blue light have been advertised to reduce digital eye strain and prevent eye disease. Although computers and devices do emit blue light, most of our blue light exposure comes from sunlight.

The small amount of blue light exposure from computers and devices has not been shown to contribute to dry eyes or cause any harm to the eyes. For this reason, the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend blue light glasses.

Dry eyes can be associated with computer and device use. Taking breaks or using artificial tears during screen time is more likely to help with dry eyes than wearing blue light glasses.

Katie Duncan, MDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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From hot to cold, temperature and humidity extremes may have a significant effect on your eyes.

Very dry, low humidity conditions may lead to dry eyes.

A 2023 study found that participants who lived in areas with less than 70% humidity were more likely to develop dry eye disease than those whose environments had more than 70% humidity.

Low humidity may lead to dry eyes in several ways, such as:

  • causing moisture to evaporate from your eyes more quickly
  • breaking up your tear film faster

When it comes to temperature, research suggests that cold temperatures are more likely to cause dry eye than warm temperatures.

This may happen because cold temperatures could thicken the meibum, the oily outer layer of tears. As a result, the protective tears may not spread across the eye as easily.

To reduce developing dry eye in the changing seasons, it’s important to keep your environment temperate. You may also wish to use a humidifier to help increase moisture in the air.

Windy environments may also lead to dry eye, according to the American Optometric Association.

Winds are likely to dry out your tears more quickly and may increase the likelihood of irritants getting in your eye.

Try wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes if you’re going to be somewhere with strong winds.

While a cool breeze may feel good against your skin, it may not feel as good on your eyes.

Keeping the windows down while driving may increase your chance of getting environmental irritants in your eye, such as debris, dirt, or allergens.

Try wearing wraparound sunglasses when you’re in a car with the windows down. If you have chronic dry eye, you can apply artificial tears before and after your trip.

Can a fan cause dry eye?

Yes, using a stand, desk, or ceiling fan may cause dry eye if the wind is directly in your face for a long period.

Does sleeping with a fan on affect your eyes?

Sleeping with a fan on can cause dry eyes, especially if the wind is in your face all night. Having the fan pointed away from you may allow you to keep the room temperature cool. If you still want to feel the air blowing, put the fan in a rotating setting with a lower air strength.

How can I protect my eyes from dry air?

According to the American Optometric Association, some at-home remedies to help protect your eyes from dry air include blinking more often, using a humidifier, trying artificial tears, staying hydrated, and consuming fatty acids. If these don’t work, speak with a healthcare professional about other options.

Does cooler air cause dry eyes?

Research suggests that colder, less humid temperatures may increase your chances of developing dry eyes.

Dry eye is a condition that can be uncomfortable and even painful.

Protecting yourself from common triggers like environmental irritants, strong winds, and cold temperatures may help prevent dry eye.

Speak with a healthcare professional if these don’t work. They could help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.