Colder Temperatures can Aggravate Dry Eye Syndrome

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For those who suffer from dry eye syndrome, the colder weather, dry air, and wind can make their condition even worse. Los Angeles Eye Surgeon Dr. Babak Shabatian explains dry eye syndrome and possible treatments to ease the discomfort.

Although it can be a problem at any time of year, even people who aren’t affected with dry eye syndrome can experience similar problems in the colder weather.

Dropping temperatures can lead to dry eyes, as insufficient tears cause pain and irritation. The eyes depend on tears to maintain vision and comfort, and those affected with dry eye syndrome do not produce adequate tears to lubricate and moisturize the eyes. Without enough tears, the eyes cannot properly wash out dust or provide enough oxygen and nutrients to the cornea. The eyes are also less able to defend from infection by removing bacteria. As an eye specialist in Los Angeles, Dr. Babak Shabatian knows several remedies for dry eye syndrome, which range from using over-the-counter artificial tears to eye surgery manipulating the tear ducts.

“Although it can be a problem at any time of year, even people who aren’t affected with dry eye syndrome can experience similar problems in the colder weather. Studies have shown that colder weather causes the oily substance in tears to become too thick to spread on the eye’s surface.” said Dr. Shabatian. “Fortunately, there are a number of solutions. You should see your eye care specialist to determine the proper treatment, because some over-the-counter eye drops may not treat the condition if it is severe.”

Tears have a complex composition made of oil, water, and mucus, and an inadequate amount of any layer can produce problems. Often, those with dry eyes will produce an abundance of tears because the eyes send distress signals through the nervous system due to lack of lubrication. However, the tears which result from this response are mostly water and not sufficient to lubricate the eyes or coat the eye surface. The result is irritated, gritty-feeling eyes which can cause blurred vision.

Some treatment options for dry eyes have an indirect relationship to the eyes, such as ingesting more omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, or taking a nutritional supplement. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends eating cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel, which are rich in essential fatty acids and can aid in tear production.

"Nutrition plays a big role in a person's overall health, including their vision," said Dr. Paul Karpecki, the Chair of Refractive Surgery Advisory Board to the AOA, in a statement. "Eating healthy by adding the benefits of essential fatty acids found in fish and nutritional supplements can play a role in preventing or easing the discomfort of dry eye."

Consuming caffeinated beverages is another potential solution to dry eye syndrome, according to a 2012 study from the University of Tokyo School of Medicine published in the journal Ophthalmology. Japanese researchers found that caffeine intake can increase the eye’s ability to produce tears as the caffeine stimulates the tear glands and increases other bodily secretions, such as saliva and digestive juices.

To treat dry eyes, Dr. Shabatian recommends:

1) Adding tears - For milder, seasonal cases of dry eyes, Dr. Shabatian recommends managing the condition with preservative-free artificial tree solution as the first line of defense. Using an air humidifier at home may help, as well.

2) Pain management - Warm compresses and massaging the eyelids can help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.

3) Seeing an eye care specialist - For cases which do not respond to self-care, an eye care specialist can prescribe eye drops. Other more severe cases can be treated by an eye doctor through an in-office surgical procedure, where the tear ducts are blocked in order to close them and conserve the tears in the eyes. Following the procedure, prescription eye drops are usually provided to increase tear production.


About Dr. Babak Shabatian
Dr. Babak Shabatian is a Board-Certified Ophthalmic Surgeon who practices comprehensive ophthalmology with a focus on advanced cataract surgery and LASIK. He received his medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine. He completed fellowship training in retina and vitreous diseases. He is frequently invited to lecture on topics of refractive and advanced cataract surgery. He has performed thousands of procedures with excellent and predictable results, and Dr. Shabatian states that eye surgery gives him the opportunity to transform lives in minutes, and he is committed to ensuring that his patients have a great experience at every level of their care.

About CaliEye
CaliEye has a team of committed, experienced professionals who offer only the greatest quality of care and safety to every one of our patients. Dr. Shabatian has performed thousands of procedures in Southern California using only the most state of the art equipment. CaliEye will address all of your questions and concerns with the highest level of respect and understanding. To learn more, call (310) 909-8880 or visit

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