Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Travel and Dry Eye Syndrome

For many dry eye sufferers, summer spells relief. As we turn off our indoor heating systems and the humidity level creeps up, often dry eye symptoms begin to wane. However, there are a few situations to be aware of that can dry your eyes and put a cramp in your summer plans.

Airplanes
Summer travelers should beware of the dry conditions in airplane cabins. Cabin air is continuously refreshed with outside air, which is very cold and has low water content. The cabin humidity ranges from 5-35%, which is about how dry the air is during the winter in a heated home! Preparing for this environmental change by drinking lots of water and using artificial tears preemptively will allow you to land with your eyes feeling fresh and ready to enjoy your summer vacation.

Click here for more information on the airplane cabin environment.

Allergies
One of the best things about summer is the chance to get out and enjoy nature. But for some allergy sufferers, the thought of grasses and pollen alone is enough to make their eyes itch. Dry eye symptoms, such as ocular irritation, foreign body sensation and light sensitivity, are aggravated by allergies. Itching eyes are an indication that allergies are playing a part in the ocular irritation. In this situation, it is important to treat both the dry eye and the allergies to get relief. Artificial tears are available over the counter, but most allergy eye drops are dispensed by prescription only.

Ceiling Fans
On those hot muggy nights when the ceiling fan is the only thing keeping you from sweating in bed, beware of the drying effect of all of that wind. Many people don’t close their eyes all of the way during sleep. This can be enough to dry the eyes alone, but add in the effect of the ceiling fan and you may wake up in the morning with dry eyes! If you can’t stand the thought of turning the ceiling fan off in the night, consider wearing sleep goggles like “Thera Eyes” or using a gel form of ocular surface lubricant, like Genteal gel prior to going to bed.

If you plan for them, and treat the dry eye ahead of time, you can save yourself weeks of catch-up work with the artificial tears!

More information on dry eye syndrome and treatments.

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