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1 March 2017

High Risk of Dry-Eye Syndrome as Arctic Blast Set to Hit the UK

With strong cold winds set to hit parts of the UK this month, the concern for our eye health is high. The Met Office forecasts bands of rain and strong winds in central and southern parts of the UK in the first half of the month, with unsettled spells of wet and windy weather continuing later in the month too. Dry-eye syndrome affects about 300 million people, and this is likely to increase in cold and windy conditions.

As we all know, tears and our eye’s moisture is vital for eye health; clearing dirt, dust and debris, and maintaining clear vision.  In the winter months when caught in cold weather, eyes often tend to water as a protective response, but strong winds and extreme weather are likely to evaporate or dry out the moisture quickly, potentially causing dry eye syndrome from prolonged exposure.

As reported by the Express, Dr David Allamby, founder of London’s Focus Clinic and laser eye surgeon, says “Icy, strong winds and warm central heating combine to produce the perfect storm for dry eye disease, as you suffer in these moisture-less air conditions.”

The condition - known formally as keratoconjunctivitis sicca – occurs when the eyes fail to make enough tears, or when tears evaporate quicker than normal. Main symptoms are dryness, grittiness and soreness in the eyes. The NHS also lists other more serious symptoms as burning, red eyes, eyelids that stick together when you wake up and temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink.

The NHS website continues in saying how dry eye syndrome affects 1 in 3 over 65s in the UK, and is overall more common in women than men. The condition also affects those who;
  • Wear contact lenses
  • Have certain medical conditions such as blepharitis
  • Experience side effects from some medications – including antihistamines, antidepressants and beta-blockers
  • Women who experience hormonal changes due to pregnancy, the menopause or taking the contraceptive pill

Dr David Allamby advises to protect your eyes in the winter months;

“In preparation for the cold snap that’s approaching, I’d urge people stock up on eye drops to lubricate and soothe sore eyes.

“While you might look a bit daft, I’d also wear sunglasses if you’re venturing outside in windy conditions to help prevent any rapid evaporation of tears.

“If you’ve got heated seats in your car, use those rather than the air conditioning, which simply blasts dehydrating hot air into your face.”

Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and take necessary precautions to protect your eyes, as the last thing you want is itchy, irritated eyes on top of the often unpleasant chill of winter. If you experience serious dry eye symptoms, it’s advised to seek medical help at your local pharmacy or GP.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.