Dry eye symptoms tend to become much worse in the wintertime in Alberta. This is largely because the cold winter air can’t hold very much moisture, and the lack of humidity affects our eyes. As the air dries out, so do our tears, and our eyes become itchy and painful. Dry eyes can be caused by a lack of tear production or by the production of low-quality tears that don’t have all of the necessary components of tears (including aqueous fluids, oils, and mucus). When tears are not adequately lubricating the eyes, the dry winter air can make dry eye symptoms worse and can cause Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) to flare up. To help combat winter dry eyes, here are some dry eye treatments for any level of dry eye symptom severity.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
Prescription Eye Drops
Dry eyes can sometimes be caused by corneal inflammation or eye infection. For either of these, you will need prescription eye drops from your optometrist. If your eyes do not produce enough tears, your optometrist may be able to prescribe you eye drops, gels, or pills that can help to stimulate tear production.
This type of lubricating eye drop is used to soothe dry eyes by simulating tears. Artificial tears do not require a prescription and can be bought over the counter, but if you need to use artificial tears multiple times a day to keep your eyes comfortable, you should schedule a dry eye exam at a dry eye clinic, as you may need more comprehensive treatment.
Warm Compresses And Wipes
Using a washcloth that’s damp with warm water and gently pressing it onto your eyes for about 10 minutes will help to unclog oils in the eyelids. Wiping the lash line with lid wipes and gently massaging the upper and lower eyelids can also help to clear clogged oil glands so that the tears produced will contain the proper amount of oil.
IPL And RF Technology
Intense Pulsed Light Treatment (IPL) is used to break up oils that are clogging the meibomian glands, eliminate blood vessels that contribute to inflammation, and decrease the amount of pro-inflammatory mediators that contribute to dry eyes. Radio Frequency (RF) generates heat energy to break up oils that are blocking the meibomian glands. These two treatments can be used together for people with severe DES. RF is commonly used on people with less severe DES or dry eyes. To learn more about these advanced dry eye technologies, read How Forma RF (Radio Frequency) Is Revolutionizing Dry Eye Treatment and IPL Treatment For Dry Eyes: How Long Will Results Last?
This advanced dry eye technology is used to unclog oil glands and remove excess bacteria and toxins from the eyelids. BlephEx® is a fast and painless optometrist-administered treatment that only takes about 10 to 15 minutes per treatment. To learn more, read Advanced Dry Eye Clinic: What Is BlephEx® Treatment?
A common type of dry eye treatment comes in the form of a sleep mask. Some sleep masks are put in the microwave before bed, such as the i-RELIEF mask, or they can heat electronically, like the Umay REST mask. This mask heats and cools your eyelids to relieve dry eye symptoms. The Umay REST helps to stimulate tear production and keep the eyes fully closed through the night, while the i-RELIEF mask acts similar to a warm compress and helps to temporarily soothe dry eyes so you can get to sleep. To learn about Umay REST, read more here.
Receive Dry Eye Treatment This Winter
For some people, this time of year is when dry eye symptoms are at their peak. Control your symptoms and see comfortably by visiting the dry eye clinic at My Optometrist in Calgary or Three Hills. Our staff can assess your dry eyes to determine the cause and severity of your symptoms. With this information, the optometrists will recommend treatment options and educate you about your dry eyes. To book an eye exam with one of our eye doctors, contact My Optometrist at one of our three locations at Health First in SE Calgary, Sunridge in NE Calgary, or Three Hills, AB. You can also call us or fill out the online contact form.
Q: How severe are my dry eyes?
A: If you want to assess the severity of your dry eyes before you come for dry eye treatment, you can take the dry eye quiz! Scroll to the middle of this page to where it says “Take The Dry Eye Quiz Now!” and simply fill out the questionnaire.
Q: What should I do if I think I have DES?
A: Book an appointment with the team at My Optometrist at any of our Calgary or Three Hills locations. Our knowledgeable team will diagnose you and design a custom treatment plan for you.
Q: Is there a cure for dry eyes?
A: There is not, but there are ways to mitigate the symptoms with dry eye treatment. Other than the list above, there are options offered by the eye doctors at My Optometrist Calgary, such as Meibomian gland expression, punctal plugs, and more. Talk to our optometrists for more information.