We are in the middle of winter in Vancouver with cold weather, snow and wind warnings issued by Environment Canada. That brings to mind one if our core practice areas: dry eye disease and the effect the weather has on symptoms of dry eye disease.
The term dry-eye syndrome or dry-eye disease (DED) refers to a number of different conditions, all of which are characterized by inadequate lubrication of the surface of the eye. It is a chronic condition that can affect up to 30% of the population and affects women more than men.
At our clinic, many patients experience a worsening of symptoms in winter weather conditions such as dry air, wind and cold. A 2016 study published in the journal Acta Ophthalmology scientifically confirms what patients have been tell us in the exam room. Researchers looked at 738 patients who had dry eye or Sjögren’s syndrome (which can an auto-immune disease that can cause dry eye) and asked them about the impact of weather and seasonal transitions on their dry eye disease symptoms.
Wind was the most common cause of worsening dry eye symptoms. with 71% of patients complaining of more dryness in windy weather. This is likely due to the increased evaporation of an already depleted tear film. Tears that don’t have enough of a lipid layer due to meibomian gland dysfunction have an increased rate of tear evaporation and wind makes this worse. Cold weather was also reported to aggravate dry eye sensation by 34% of patients. The two seasonal extremes of summer and winter were most commonly associated with increased dry eye symptoms with summer being slightly worse than winter.
If you experience dry eyes, many advanced treatments are available. We are not talking about your grandmother’s eye drops. Some options include:
- Scleral lenses
- Prescription Medications
- Artificial Tears
- Punctal Plugs
The right treatment for you depends on the condition of your tears, your eyes and eye lids and the structure of your tear secreting glands. The eye doctor at Perspective Optometry at our Vancouver clinic will examine all of the above and discuss treatment options at an office visit.