Winter Dry Eyes

Dry Eyes

It's commonly known that the cold winter months can lead to dry skin and chapped lips. You might change your nightly routine by applying a thicker moisturizer or oil to try and resuscitate your lifeless skin. You might also spend November-March living in an 8th grade flashback with your lips constantly tasting like cherry ChapStick. What is not as well known is the effect that the same dry winter air can have on the eyes. During the winter, the cold dry wind outside as well as the heat you're blasting inside causes a disruption in the stability of your tears, and new tear production just can't keep up, so your eyes become dehydrated. You might be experiencing symptoms of dry eyes and not even realize it.

Not even know it? It may sound like a foolish thing to say, but the number one symptom reported to me by patients who end up with a dry eye diagnosis is excessive tearing. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it? But the reality is you have an amazing defense system built into those little eyeballs of yours. When the eyes become too dry, this compensation mechanism triggers the release of reflex tears to try to combat that dryness. Unfortunately, these reflex tears can be excessive, annoying and don't have the stability needed to fix more advanced dryness. I'm sure you've experienced this walking on a cold, windy day. Your freshly applied morning makeup ends up dripping down the side of your face and what started off looking like Adriana Lima ends up looking a little more like Zombie Bride.

Some other symptoms of dry eyes include a foreign body sensation (feeling that something is consistently in your eye), itching, burning and eye fatigue. And if you're not ocularly bummed out enough, if you're sitting in front of a computer all day you're fueling the fire. When you're concentrating on a computer screen your blink rate decreases by half. HALF! Every time you blink, you're squeezing out a little bit of tears, so it's easy to figure out why if you're on a computer Steve Wozniak style your eyes can literally feel the burn.

Here are my recommendations on how to make your eyes feel a little less Sahara and replenish those waterworks (and none involve a Nicholas Sparks movie).

1. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate!

As in keep that Swell bottle next to you during the day and keep sipping and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in water content. Keeping your body hydrated helps replenish the aqueous part of your tears.

2. Omega-3's

As in bring on the Bang Bang Shrimp. DHA and EPA found in fish oil will improve dry eye inflammation and improve tear stability. If sautéing Nemo isn't your thing, then go with ground flax seed. Fish and flax seed oil can also be found in capsules and gummies.

3. Artificial Tears

You've seen it. That explosion of brands in the eye care aisle of your grocery or drug store. You want to make sure to use artificial tears and not a product designed to "take the red out" (AHEM Visine, AHEM Clear Eyes). I recommend a preservative-free artificial tear (pictured above) so you don't risk irritation from over-use. Start by using the drops 4 times daily and reassess how your eyes feel. Some brands of preservative-free artificial tears I recommend are Refresh Plus, Refresh Optive and Systane Ultra.

If these recommendations are failing to ease your symptoms, then you should see your eye care professional. Your eye doctor can assess the type of dry eye you have and make further treatment recommendations if necessary.


  1. Thanks for the very helpful info. Going to get my Omega-3 today. 😊

  2. Yay! It really is so good for you!


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