Does Air Conditioning Cause Dry Eyes?

4 min read

Many people wonder what environmental factors can affect the health of their eyes. Air conditioning does not cause dry eyes, but there is evidence to show that it can aggravate it or make it worse. Worsening of dry eye symptoms was seen with people who spent more time indoors with their air conditioning on. If the air is more dry and less humid, this can also make dry eye worse.

If you are using air conditioning in your car or your home, be sure that there the air is not blowing directly at your face. It is the mechanical blowing that would cause the tears from your eyes to evaporate faster rather than the actual cooling component of the air. Similar to this, very windy conditions can also aggravate dry eyes.

Some people are more sensitive to dry eyes than others. For these individuals, they may notice that certain triggers make their dry eye worse. Dry eye symptoms such as tearing and the need to blink frequently in order to see clearly are common among dry eye sufferers. Treating dry eye depends on using artificial tears and also on avoiding situations that may make the symptoms of dry eye worse. Other situations that can make dry eye worse are moving air, low humidity environments, pollution, and focused visual activities such as watching TV or reading a book or tablet.

Dry Eye Treatments

For dry eye patients who spend several hours a day in an office or setting where the air conditioning will be on, it is likely that their symptoms will become worse. In order to help this situation, there are a few things that you can do. The first is to take a break from your environment. If you are able to, take a walk outside to get out of the air conditioning. This may be especially helpful in humid climates where a walk outside in a high-humidity environment can help to ease the dryness.

Another easy way to combat dry eye that is happening indoors is to keep a vial of artificial tears by your desk or computer. Remember to use artificial tears every few hours. It is better to use artificial tears before you start to experience dryness rather than waiting until your symptoms become extreme.

Finally, if you can not modify your environment (meaning, you can't turn the air conditioning off), then you should think about modifying your activities. If you work in an office where the air conditioning is making your eye dryness worse, then using the computer for several hours a day is also going to have a negative affect. In this case, try to also take screen breaks. This allows your eyes to blink normally and will likely make them less dry.

Does Air Conditioning Cause Dry Eyes: Take Home Points

While air conditioning does not *cause dry eyes, it can make it worse. Many people can be in air conditioning without any issues. But, for patients who are more susceptible to having dry eye, air conditioning can cause a worsening or an aggravation of symptoms. Modifying your environment and using artificial tears can help to combat the symptoms of dry eye.

Sources:

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https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34303844/

Talens-Estarelles C, García-Marqués JV, Cerviño A, García-Lázaro S. Dry Eye-Related Risk Factors for Digital Eye Strain. Eye Contact Lens. 2022 Oct 1;48(10):410-415. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000923. Epub 2022 Jul 8. PMID: 36155946.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36155946/

García-Marqués JV, Talens-Estarelles C, García-Lázaro S, Wolffsohn JS, Cerviño A. Systemic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors for dry eye disease in a mediterranean caucasian population. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2022 Oct;45(5):101539. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2021.101539. Epub 2021 Nov 14. PMID: 34789408.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34789408/

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