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Solutions for Winter Dry Eye

My eyes feel more dry as we approach winter, what can I do?

Unfortunately between smoky summers and dry winters, us here in the Okanagan don’t get much reprieve from dry eye symptoms.

Fortunately there are many therapies that can be employed to manage this condition.

Artificial Tears

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? While patients may find it annoying to remember to use eyedrops, they are a mainstay of treatment and unfortunately you likely won’t get symptom relief without them. I tend to favour preservative-free artificial tears, as there is less potential for irritation and no limit to how often you can use them, but ask your Doctor of Optometry to recommend one that is right for you.


Omega-3 fatty acids help supplement the oil layer of your tears, which helps prevent tear evaporation. This can be taken via a supplement to ensure you are getting enough, but is also helpful to incorporate them into your diet via nuts, seeds (e.g. flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds), oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines), and certain fruits and veggies (e.g. avocado, squash, edamame).

Medicated drops

For moderate to severe dry eye sufferers, there are certain prescription drops that aim to reduce inflammation on the surface of the eye. If appropriate, your Optometrist can prescribe the medication that is best for you.

Hot compresses

The most soothing and probably under-utilized dry eye therapy is that of hot compresses. Heat melts the oil from the oil-producing glands in your eyelids so that they enter your tears and prevent tear evaporation. It needs to be a consistent, moist heat so using hot facecloths is ineffective as they cool off too quickly. I typically recommend an eye mask – set a timer for 8 minutes, and let your oils (and worries) melt away.

Punctal occlusion:

The ducts that drain tears from our eyes are called puncta. They can be temporarily or permanently occluded to prevent tear drainage and prolong moisture on your eyes.

Intense Pulsed Light or Radiofrequency:

Exciting options that are now available are IPL and RF treatments. They both function to alleviate inflammation, improve clogged oil glands, reduced inflammation, while also reversing the signs of aging by stimulating collagen production thus smoothing wrinkles – bonus!

Lifestyle modifications:

Buy a humidifier (have you ever noticed how much better your eyes feel in Vancouver or Hawaii?), quit smoking, drink lots of water, and put down the smartphone (or at least take breaks – super important when looking at a screen).

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the options available – there are other treatments that may be recommended to you on a case-by-case basis. Remember how in the first paragraph I said these could be used to “manage” dry eye? That’s right, unfortunately there are no true “cures” for dry eye, just therapies to employ for management of the condition. You get out what you put in, but if you do the work and actually utilize the treatment options recommended by your optometrist in Lake Country, you should be well on your way to happier, more comfortable eyes.