Why Cold Temperatures Increase Eye Dryness

Why Cold Temperatures Increase Eye Dryness

Outdoor thermometer in snow.

DALLAS, March 2011 — If your eyes tend to feel dryer during winter weather, wearing goggles might help.

A recent study found that a temperature less than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) on your eye and eyelid causes the oily, outer layer of your eye's tear film to thicken and stiffen, so that it can't spread well across the eye. This oily substance, called the meibum, is necessary to prevent evaporation of the tears on your eye's surface.

In fact, the meibum can solidify in cold temperatures and block the meibomian gland ducts, thereby preventing release of meibum into your eye.

Wearing goggles when it's cold and windy would not only help keep your eyes warm, but would also keep out wind that would evaporate your tears.

The study report appeared in the November 2010 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.


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