Winter can be particularly tough on eyes, mainly due to dry air and wind. Here are 10 ways to prevent redness, irritation, pain and possible long-term damage, optometrists say:
Moisturize your eyes. Artificial tears, which add fluid to the surface of the eye, are sold over-the-counter and generally can be used often during the day. But check with a doctor first on which type would be best; drops with a redness remover, for example, may worsen symptoms of dry eyes.
Use a humidifier. Running a hot- or cold-air humidifier at home will add moisture to dry air.
Blink more. Be conscious of how often you blink, which naturally moisturizes eyes. Be especially careful when working on a computer, reading or tackling another task that strains eyes.
Don't rub. Rubbing your eyes can increase surface irritation.
Wear sunglasses. On windy days, shades will form a protective barrier for your eyes. If it snows, glasses will guard your eyes from damaging glare. Look for sunglasses that can block UVA and UVB rays.
Avoid blowing air. Point fans and car heaters and air conditioners away from your face, and close your eyes when using a hair dryer.
Eat more healthy fats. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may lower the risk of dry eyes. Good sources include fish, flaxseed, nuts and soybeans.
Avoid cigarette smoke. Both first- and secondhand smoke are major eye irritants.
See a doctor. If symptoms persist or are severe, you may need prescription medication, antibiotics, special contact lenses or even surgery. You may also discover dry eyes are a side effect of a medication you're already taking.