How Cold Winter Temperatures Affect Our Eyes

Winter is on its way, friends, and I don’t know about you, but my eyes are already not ‘looking forward’ to it.

Everything feels dry in the winter

Ever notice how your skin seems to feel dry and cracked in the winter, needing more lotion? Or, how about lips that always burn and scream for Vaseline or Chapstick? Anyone get more bloody noses in the winter from the dry, heated air? My children and students certainly do.

Well, our eyes are no different than the other parts of our bodies that become drier in the winter! My family seems to go through all of these things from the end of October to the end of March each year.

Dry winter eyes

I always struggle with dry eyes no matter what season it is. Winter; however, is the season where my eyes are definitely the most dry and irritated. I haven’t yet been diagnosed with dry eye syndrome, but I do take antihistamine drops each night before bed per doctor’s orders. I also use rewetting drops as needed while wearing contacts throughout the day.

Dry air

When winter hits the Midwest, it hits fast and hard! I know this is similar weather behavior to other parts of the country as well. As soon as this happens, the heater inside of our homes, offices, schools, and stores (any building really) seems to be on full blast all.the.time.


Heated air means drier air. The temperature of the air determines how much water vapor it can hold. So, warmer air from a heater holds less moisture and can cause our bodies and eyes to feel drier than usual.


This is why some families choose to have humidifiers in bedrooms and living areas during the winter months when the air is drier (and dehumidifiers in the summer, when the air feels too damp or humid). I know I use them, and let me tell really helps us ease the discomforts from the dry, heated winter air.

We have humidifiers in all of the bedrooms in our house. I find that when we wake up in the mornings after these lifesavers have been running all night, the effects of the drier air are much less. They magically help to lessen the symptoms of our dry, itchy skin, reduce the number of nosebleeds my children get, and ease the extremely dry, burning feeling in my eyes! It’s a simple fix if you ask me!

If you are suffering from any of these ailments, I highly suggest trying to place a humidifier in any room you spend a lot of time in.

Watery winter eyes

While some of us experience drier eyes in the winter, others can experience the opposite problem...wetter, watery eyes! Being outside in the cold, windy, wintry air can cause this issue. Another culprit could be seasonal allergens.

Yes, you can have winter allergies that ‘act up’ because of a lack of air ventilation (windows tend to stay closed in the winter). Staying cooped up inside more often doesn’t help either. House dust mites and animal dander are common winter allergens. These allergens can cause runny noses and itchy eyes, so keeping a cleaner house, getting fresh air as much as possible, and using allergy eye drops and medication can help ease these symptoms.

We don't have to suffer through dry, itchy eyes (skin or lips too) in the winter. Knowing why this happens gives us reason to grab those humidifiers, rewetting drops, and allergy drops to help ease the symptoms.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Happy Winter!
Andrea Junge

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