This has been the weather year from hell.
Record blizzards. Record rainfall. And record heat all in one year.
It seems like we have been trapped in the house all year.
And the utility bill has shot to record highs too.
Can Low Humidity Cause Dry Eyes?
There’s a couple of times a year when dry eyes are more of a problem than usual.
The winter, especially this past year, can be so cold that you can’t get outside for much of anything.
The dry air outside and the heater going non-stop inside create a super dry environment where it feels like your eyeballs can’t make any tears.
But it’s not just the winter, summer can have you stuck in the house also, with the air conditioner running continuously, and ceiling fans blowing and drying the air throughout the house.
Refrigerated air conditioners like window ACS, and central heat and air units, dehumidify as they cool.
That means they are actually sucking the humidity out of the air, which can cause extra dry conditions.
Once again making the air so dry that your eyes get dry and burn.
Do humidifiers help with dry eyes?
Humidifiers are devices that add moisture into the air. Relative indoor humidity has more to do with having and maintaining good health than most people are aware of. And that includes eye health.
There are a couple of ways that a humidifier can help with dry eyes.
1.Reduce dust and allergies
One of the biggest problems with low humidity dry air is the amount of dust that can accumulate and float through the air.
Dust has an absorbing nature to it that tends to dry out your skin and in this case your eyes.
One benefit of using a humidifier when you have dry eyes is that humidity has a type of “mudding” effect on dust, which causes it to be too heavy to float.
And the particles that make up dust are not just dirt.
Dust can be comprised all types of particulates including allergens like pollen, the exoskeletons of insects, feces, dried skin, germs, bacteria, and honestly just about everything you can think of.
And without enough moisture in the air to wash and weigh down this nasty airborne recipe,
They are free to come in contact with your eyes, mouth, and skin.
Humidifiers not only emit moisture back into the air to balance out the relative humidity when the air is dry, they also have a washing effect on the air.
Which can be a big relief when you suffer from dry eyes.
2. Reduce the evaporation of tears
Dry eyes are not just symptomatic of dry air. There are many reasons a person or pet can have dry eyes.
I have a dog, for instance, that is a distemper survivor.
Distemper is a debilitating canine disease that leaves the dog with a nerve disorder that causes them to bob their head continually. And that’s if they survive at all.
Another one of the effects of distemper is that it causes a dog to lose their ability to create tears.
One of the things we do to help our dog deal with his condition besides using tear drops and washing his eyes with a wet rag, is to run a humidifier for him to help soothe his eyes.
Dryness in your eyes can be due to your tears evaporating too quickly.
And if you are already having a problem with producing tears or having them evaporate too quickly,
Best Humidity Level for Dry Eyes
Dry air caused by low humidity only makes the problem worse.
Maintaining a relative humidity between 40 and 60% is a must if you already have this type of condition.
Adding moisture back into the air can provide extra moisture that can help prevent the tears in your eyes from evaporating as quickly.
But it wouldn’t be right to espouse the use of a humidifier as a remedy for dry eyes without going into a little detail on the problems a humidifier can cause if they are not maintained properly.
The nature of the humidifier is that you have to add water to it for it to do its job.
The water that you use in a humidifier, especially when you’re talking about using it for helping with dry eye syndrome, is very important.
Unfortunately tap water can be full of all types of chemicals and debris that is not good for your eyes.
If you are considering a humidifier to help with your dry eyes, you should also consider using distilled water in the humidifier to keep anything that is foreign in tap water from getting into your eyeballs.
Another issue with humidifiers is that they must be cleaned often and never used when they have old standing water in them.
The issue is that bacteria and mold can begin to grow very quickly in the water of a humidifier. As well as all the connecting points that the water moves through.
Bacteria can emerge in as little as 48 hours in standing water.
Running a humidifier with germy standing water means you will be emitting all the bacteria from the water into the air and essentially turning your humidifier into an allergy spouting machine.
Fortunately the humidifier world is beginning to catch up with the need for a humidifier that does not have the chance of getting contaminated nearly as easily as they were once known for.
Some companies like Pure Guardian have begun to put UV lamps pointing at the water in the humidifiers as a way to kill any type of bacteria that is growing in the basin.
Others include germ resistant plastics in their construction that keeps mold and bacteria from having anything to feed on inside of the basin of a humidifier.
Hopefully if this trend continues, the humidifier industry as a whole will follow suit and germ-free humidifiers will be the norm instead of the exception.