Cooking with Dry Eyes
Last updated: June 2023
I love to cook! There is something about losing track of time in the kitchen, creating and then savoring a delicious, healthy meal. In fact, I’ve written before about how activities like cooking can provide a welcome distraction from my dry eye pain and irritation. I get so caught up in the process that I may not even think about my eyes for a couple of hours.
Cooking seems to be both good for my soul and my eyes. However, there are times in the kitchen in which certain situations can exacerbate my condition and really bother my eyes.
Cooking with chronic dry eye
The first thing in the kitchen that puts a damper on my cooking bliss is chopping onions. I’ve always been sensitive to onions, and they seem to bother me even more now that I suffer from chronic dry eye. When I chop onions, my eyes will tear up and burn. And most times I have to walk away for a few seconds to let my eyes recover before I finish up my task. I’ve even gone so far as wearing safety goggles over my glasses so that the effect is minimized.
Smoke and grills
Another thing that can bother my eyes while I am cooking is smoke, especially from outdoor grills. Smoke from my indoor gas stove doesn’t seem to bother me as much. When I use my indoor stove, I turn on the overhead vent and open a window to minimize the amount of smoke my eyes are exposed to. However, outdoor grills produce far more smoke, so they really bother my eyes. Again, I’ve used safety goggles when grilling.
But lately, I’ve become more accustomed to cooking indoors or letting my husband man the grill. Also, when I open the oven door, the heat and smoke from the oven can bother my eyes as well. So I do my best to take a step back and let it clear before I reach down to remove the oven’s contents.
Finally, cleanup in the kitchen can be an issue because my eyes are highly sensitive to scented cleaning products. This is only an issue if I’m not in my own kitchen because I’ve switched all of my cleaning products over to natural, unscented, plant-based formulas. In fact, I wrote an entire article on dry-eye-friendly cleaning products in which I discuss my favorite brand (Branch Basics) and products like my steam cleaner.
Dry eye challenges
Cooking with dry eyes can be a challenge, like anything else. But I’ve learned some coping strategies so that I can continue doing the things that I love.
Has cooking exacerbated your dry eyes? What do you do to avoid this? Please share with the community below.
Has having dry eye helped you better advocate for yourself?