If you suffer from dry eyes, it’s about to get worse as winter creeps in.
The thing about cold air is that even at 100% humidity it doesn’t hold much water. For example, if it’s 20º F. outside and the humidity is 100%, and you warm that air up to 70º F. in your home – it’s now 17% relative humidity and it will dry your hair, skin and eyes.
Now suppose it’s 0º F. outside and 75% humidity, and you’ve warmed that air to 70º F in your home – now it’s 7% relative humidity. PRETTY DRY!
So what can you do? Well of course you could move to Florida or maybe just invest in a home humidifier, but if you like your job, home, neighbors and/or relatives, moving to Florida is probably not practical. And, seldom do employers supply humidified air in the workplace.
Add to all this, you spend most of your day on the computer – you’ve just compounded your problem. Computers reduce your blink rate to about one third of normal as discussed in the article entitled Dry Eye in this blog. Regular blinking, that is ~ 22 times per minute, is needed to activate the oil glands in the eyelid. With inadequate blinking the oil that is needed to prevent evaporation is severely reduced, and you well suffer from evaporative dry eye (EDE).
Now let’s say you are also taking antihistamines, diuretics, beta blockers, antispasmodics or psychotropic drugs, you may have pushed your problem to “pathological” dryness. When you get up in the morning the eyelid is stuck to the eyeball, and if it hasn’t happened yet – it may. Maybe you are just miserable with this constant feeling of dryness – burning, stinging, itching and scratching.
What can you do? You need to devise a method of prompting blinks while using the computer. In our clinic we have a “blinking coach.” I know. It sounds lame, but our blinking coach can improve your life. You can also have lubricant drops by your computer and use them every hour. Oil drops are likely the best, and it’s much better if they are unpreserved. Drops other than oil are sometimes needed. Your eye doctor can help determine which drops are best for you.