While dry eye syndrome affects millions of people worldwide, living or working in Colorado can increase your chances of suffering from dry eyes. With its high elevation and gusty winds, Colorodo’s climate can leave your eyes begging for some moisture.
Fortunately, the eye care team at 1 Hour EyeDocs can provide you with the long-lasting relief you need from dry, irritated, and itchy eyes — even if you live in a dusty, windy environment.
How High Elevation Can Lead to Dry Eyes
One of the primary reasons for rampant dry eyes in Colorado is the high elevation. The average elevation in the state is approximately 6,800 feet (2,070 meters) above sea level.
A study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that 25% of adults in Colorado have dry eye syndrome, compared to the national average of 19%.
This is because air tends to be drier at higher altitudes due to lower humidity levels. That dryness can disrupt the normal function of tear glands and compromise the tear film that protects the eyes. It can also accelerate tear evaporation, leading to dry eye symptoms such as itching, burning, and redness.
The Impact of High Winds on Dry Eyes
Colorado's climate is infamous for its combination of low humidity, cold temperatures, and high winds, all of which can significantly worsen dry eye symptoms. Strong wind gusts cause tears to evaporate more rapidly from the ocular surface, leading to a persistent dry and gritty sensation. Moreover, the wind often carries various irritants, including dust, pollen, and pollutants, which can further irritate the eyes and make dry eye symptoms more pronounced.
To shield your eyes from the drying effects of high winds, wearing sunglasses or goggles can provide a physical barrier. Wraparound sunglasses with side shields offer even better protection against wind and debris, reducing the chances of eye irritation.
Additionally, applying lubricating eye drops or artificial tears before venturing into windy conditions can help keep the eyes moist and comfortable.
Prevention and Relief Tips for Dry Eyes in Colorado
Regular hydration will help counteract the effects of high elevation on dry eyes. With enough water intake, you can maintain optimal fluid balance in the body, including in your tear ducts. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, or as your doctor recommends.
Use Artificial Tears
Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, known as artificial tears, can temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms. Opt for preservative-free options, as some people may be sensitive to the preservatives found in certain eye drops.
Protect Your Eyes
Wearing sunglasses that offer UV protection is crucial in Colorado's high-altitude environment. This shields your eyes from the sun's harmful rays and reduces exposure to wind and airborne irritants. Wraparound sunglasses or goggles provide optimal coverage.
Take Frequent Breaks
Remember to take regular breaks if you spend extended periods working on a computer or engaging in activities requiring intense focus. This allows your eyes to rest. Blinking regularly and consciously, especially while using your digital devices, can also prevent excessive strain and dryness.
Add Moisture to Your Environment
Use a humidifier in your home or workplace to add moisture to the air, particularly during dry winter months or in areas with low humidity. This can significantly alleviate dry eye symptoms and enhance overall eye comfort.
Regular Eye Exams
Regular eye exams are essential for maintaining optimal eye health, especially in a dry climate like Colorado’s. An eye exam allows your optometrist to evaluate your eye health, identify any underlying issues contributing to dry eyes, and provide appropriate treatment or management options. They can also assess the effectiveness of your current dry eye prevention and relief strategies and recommend additional measures to alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Get Your Eye Exam In Montrose, Colorado
By understanding the impact of Colorado’s environmental factors and implementing preventive measures, you can manage your dry eye and enjoy greater visual comfort in this beautiful state.
It is also important to schedule regular eye exams near you, even if you don't currently experience dry eye symptoms. Book a dry eye appointment in Montrose, Colorado.
1 Hour EyeDocs can help with early detection and intervention to help prevent the progression of dry eye and work towards your long-term eye health and comfort.