Winter is coming! And no, I’m not talking about the most popular television series of all time. I can almost hear GOT fans say ‘yeah!!! ”. This is the season that most of us appreciate, pleasant mornings and cool nights, vacation time, reunions around barbecues and bonfires. What the winter season also brings with it are various health issues like increased flu cases, exacerbation of respiratory diseases, etc. In a milder form we see dry skin and dry eyes, these occur due to lower relative humidity in the air during winters compared to monsoons.Also Read – Skin Care Tips: 5 Under Eye Protection Tips For Women
We tend to lose moisture from our skin and eyes, while the skin is much more resistant to damage. it is our eyes that need special care during the winters. Read also – Worried about the health of your eyes? Try These Ayurvedic Remedies To Reduce Eye Strain
Did you know that our eyes are constantly exposed to the environment and are at the receiving end of harsh pollution, dust, dry air; they have an ingenious protective mechanism in the form of a three-layer, flashing tear film! Also read – Wondering how to protect your eyes from the scorching heat? Expert Answers
The tear film is made up of three layers – an innermost layer of mucin, a gel-like substance, which essentially anchors the other two layers to the surface of the eye, a middle aqueous layer like water forms the major part of the tear film and an outermost oily layer which covers the other two layers and prevents evaporation by external factors. Really sophisticated, isn’t it? !
Blinking, on the other hand, acts like your car’s windshield wiper, removing dust or debris and refreshing the tear film, these mechanisms ensure that our eyes always stay clean and moist.
These days, with the excessive use of gadgets by children and the elderly, the eyes are already under a lot of stress and the dryness that comes with winters only worsens eye health.
So what can we do to prevent this from happening-
Follow good eyelid hygiene, in which keep your eyelids clean by washing them with an anti-tear shampoo, prevent any dust or crusts from accumulating in the eyelashes as these tend to hinder tear film formation and act as a reservoir of infections. This is important for those who use eye makeup, be sure to use non-chemical products and clean the eyelids thoroughly to remove them.
Alternatively, lid wipes can be used to clean the lids.
If you use contact lenses, remember not to wear them for more than 6-7 hours a day, to maintain good hand hygiene, and to use lubricant drops as advised by your doctor.
In winter, using a warm compress on the eyelids provides a soothing feeling of relaxation and helps keep eyelid oil secretions at an optimal level, which is essential for the oily layer of the tear film.
If you can afford it, an air humidifier in the room helps maintain humidity levels, which prevents dry eyes and also benefits people with respiratory conditions.
When you go out in this weather, make sure your eyes are not directly exposed to the cold wind, wear goggles or a helmet if you are traveling on 2 wheels.
If you use gadgets excessively, try to limit your use or at least take frequent breaks, which is not only good for your eyes, but also for your neck and back!
Make a conscious effort to blink frequently, as there is a tendency to reduce blink rate when we are concentrating on work, most often during screen time.
Use lubricating eye drops as prescribed by your eye doctor, these drops help supplement and restore the tear film.
Smoking has a direct effect on dry eye, with chronic smokers having a higher incidence of dry eye. no pun intended!
And finally, make sure your eyes get enough rest and sleep, avoid using your phone at bedtime, good undisturbed sleep is essential for your eyes as well as your mind and body!
(Author by Dr. Satya Prasad Balki, MS FCAS (AEH), Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cornea, Phaco-Refraction Services, MaxiVision Eye Hospital, Hyderabad)