February 9, 2015
To ophthalmologists, winter is dry eye season. The surface of the eye, which is 99 percent water, tends to lose more moisture to evaporation in winter than any other season.* If the atmosphere is abnormally dry or polluted to begin with because of drought, according to radio host and fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne, the effects of winter dry eye will be even worse.
*"Washington eye care practice helps patients combat winter dry eye syndrome," Market Wire via Yahoo Finance, January 7, 2015
The syndicated Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show, hosted by fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne, is heard weekly on VoiceAmerica and Apple iTunes. The education oriented show is sponsored by Bio-Logic Aqua® Research, a global research and technology center founded by Kleyne and specializing in fresh water, the atmosphere and dehydration. Nature's Tears® EyeMist® is the Research Center's signature product for dry and dehydrated eyes.
The next Sharon Kleyne Hour™ Power of Water® radio show airs on January 26, 2015 at 10 a.m.. For the live broadcast, or podcasts of past shows, go to http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2207/the-sharon-kleyne-hour.
Dry eye (also called "tear film dehydration") is more of a problem in winter, according to Kleyne, because colder air can't hold as much humidity (also called "ambient water vapor") as warmer air. This can be misleading because the amount of water vapor in the air is usually expressed as "relative humidity" rather than "absolute humidity."
"Relative humidity," Kleyne explains, is the percentage or fraction of the total amount of water vapor that the atmosphere is capable of holding at a given temperature. "Absolute humidity" is the percentage of the atmosphere that is occupied by water, regardless of temperature. With 50 percent relative humidity at 100 degrees (F), the absolute humidity might be two or three percent. With 50 percent relative humidity at 25 degrees, the absolute humidity might only be 0.02 percent and it would all be frozen). .
The lower the absolute humidity, says Kleyne, the greater is the pressure on liquid water at the Earth's surface to transform into water vapor and rise into the atmosphere. Increases in evaporative pressure affects oceans, lakes, soil, trees, skin and eyes.
If the air is already too dry because of extended drought, as is the case in California and much of the American West, according to Kleyne, colder winter temperatures will make evaporative pressure much worse. The fact that temperatures tend to be a little warmer during drought is offset by the fact that there is much less rainfall to humidify the air. There is also more wind in winter, which can be extremely dehydrating to eyes and facial skin.
Another reason for winter dry eye is that people spend more time indoors. Forced air heating and cooling and insulated walls and windows can drastically lower a room's humidity and can be very dehydrating.
Dry eye symptoms, says Kleyne, include eye discomfort, itching an burning eyes, transitory blurred vision, frequent headaches, fatigue, and increased levels of stress or depression. Severe of chronic dry eye can effect mood and productivity and lead to corneal ulcers, eye diseases such as glaucoma, and worse. Nearly 100% of people who use computers more than two hours a day experience occasional dry eye symptoms.
Kleyne suggests several ways to avoid winter dry eye, even in drought areas. First and foremost is to drink at least eight glasses of fresh water a day in addition to al other fluids. Also, be aware of room humidity and purchase a humidifier if necessary. Plants, and bowls of water, will also increase indoor humidity. Be sure to crack a window occasionally to let in fresh outdoor air. Wear eye protection outdoors to prevent eye dehydration from snow glare and wind.
Finally, Kleyne recommends carrying and using a hand held eye and skin humidifying device such as Nature's Tears® EyeMist® from Bio-Logic Aqua Research. Nature's Tears® EyeMist® instantly supplements lost tear film moisture - caused by dry air, air pollution, winter flu, or tear gland dysfunction - with a pure, sterile ultra-fine water mist that is readily absorbed by the tear film.
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