Prevent Dry Winter Eyes—Naturally

February 26, 2014

Winter EyesSure, you can easily get any number of over-the-counter eye drops, and even prescription eye drops, but isn’t it better if you just don’t need them to begin with?

The drop in temperature that winter brings can cut household humidity by half or more, leaving your eyes dry (and maybe even red, sore, and itchy). This winter has been particularly brutal—there have been few breaks in the below freezing temperature, and parts of the country not really prepared for this level of winter has shared the same dry-eyed sorrows as those of us used to snow!

So what can you do?

-Winter is a great time to run your humidifier. Not only will it help moisten your eyes, the presence of humidity fights flu transmission.

-Stay Hydrated. Drinking water is step one—but there are less obvious ways, too: eating more fruit and other juicy foods. And winter is a great time for soups and stews. Simmering one all day will not only be delicious and re-hydrating, it will humidify your home. (Root vegetables and meat can simmer all day, but anything tender or delicate, like noodles, sweet potato, dumplings, rice, tomatoes, etc. should go in 20-30 minutes before serving).

-Blink! Right this very second, you’re staring at a screen. That means you’re blinking far less than you should be. Experts say that ideally, you should cut back on screen time. Unfortunately, the future is now, and screens are ubiquitous—we need them for (most importantly) work, as well as play, and even to run our fridge, thermostat, and cars. If you can’t cut back on screen time, write a reminder to yourself—a little eyeball on your water bottle cap, a sticky note where you stare into space—and make a conscious effort to blink more, or use those little breaks to close and hydrate your eyes.

-Be careful how you warm up. It feels good to sit next to a heater, or to blast one in your car, but that dry air will suck moisture out of your eyes. Turn your car heater on so it blasts your feet (don’t worry, heat rises and you’ll be warmed through soon). At home, turn your ceiling fan to reverse, and run it on low—you’ll push hot air down along the walls (and save money on your energy bill because you’ll be able to turn your thermostat down). If you sit in front of a fire, turn your back to it, and sip water, not alcohol (which can dehydrate you).

-Make sure you are eating enough Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to tear production, so if you’re not eating enough fish, nuts, and fortified foods like eggs, take a supplement.

What other winter problems do you have?

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