Recently there have been numerous patients with concerns of irritated red eyes. This is a bit unusual for this time of year due to the fact that people tend to spend more time indoors and allergens are not as prevalent in the air. Since the last part of December when the bitter cold hit our area I have been seeing more and more patients with dry eye related problems.

The cold air and wind combined have made it difficult for patients to see clearly and to maintain healthy, comfortable eyes. Contact lens wear has been especially difficult in some patients due to their symptoms. We need to know how to maintain good eye health when extreme weather comes.

First of all simple techniques such as wearing good eye protection when in the wind can keep wind from drying the eyes. I recommend sunglasses that have wrap to them to provide more coverage. Manufacturers even make sunglasses with foam on the back to improve their ability to block the wind.

Secondly a good artificial tear will go a long way to help maintain eye lubrication. I recommend tears such as Systane and Optive for people that do not wear contacts. These tears provide excellent lubrication. The preservatives are the ingredients that can cause eye irritation with continued use of drops. These vary with different tears. Systane and Optive for the most part have preservatives that people tolerate well. When needed I ask patients to use tears anywhere from twice a day to four times per day. Sometimes patients want to use drops to “get the red out” for eye discomfort. Many of these drops actually cause further dryness due to the chemical that they contain.

If eye protection and tears still cannot solve the problem then there may be more going on than just dryness. Most patients try to self treat initially then when their symptoms persist they show up at their doctor’s office. This only becomes problematic if the problem gets out of control and takes longer to cure as a result in the delay in coming into the office. The moral here is that if treating yourself is not working, do not wait to see your eye doctor. The old adage about prevention really does hold true when it comes to the eyes. It takes a lot longer to get rid of a problem the worse it gets.

For more information, see Dr. Moore, O.D. at Moore Eye Center across from Town and Country Bank on Harbin Street in Stephenville or call 254-968-2345 or visit the web at (Paid advertorial.)