What Qualities I Look For in Humidifiers for Dry Eye
Ideally, I’d have a large cool mist humidifier in every room of my house during the winter – maybe even 2 in the larger spaces – plus a warm mist one for when someone is sick, and a couple of portable humidifiers for good measure. If you're trying to treat the symptoms of dry eye, is it possible to have too many humidifiers?
As I’ve debated this question with my not-particularly-fond-of-humidifiers husband, we’ve decided that quality is more important than quantity.
Figuring out what humidifier works best for me
My chronic dry eye stems from my lupus and Sjögren's syndrome; these diseases also cause the joints in my hands to hurt. This makes it difficult to lift heavy things, such as the bucket-like water reservoirs in many humidifiers. So I’ve become a big fan of the top fill humidifiers. I use a mini pitcher to fill them up, which typically takes 2-3 refills but has the advantage of being relatively lightweight.
Between my busy life, brain fog, and fatigue, it’s hard for me to refill my humidifiers. So I prefer ones with large reservoirs that need less frequent tending; my current favorite holds 4 liters and can run for up to 18 hours.
It’s also important that they are easy to clean. They are supposed to be cleaned every few days to prevent harmful stuff from growing in them. If only there were self-cleaning ones!
Lastly, most people want ultra or whisper quiet humidifiers. While I don’t mind a bit of sound – in fact, I find it to be rather soothing – I do agree that quieter is generally preferable.
Where to put it in different sized rooms
I have 99 problems but a humidifier isn't one, right? I’m kidding. I have had all sorts of problems with humidifiers. The biggest one: where do I put it, especially in different-sized rooms?
I used to keep one in a central spot on the floor of my living room until my oldest son started crawling. He was fascinated by the mist – incapable of staying away – and inevitably knocked it over. My second son recently did the same thing despite my supposedly more concealed placement. Both times my kids were soaked and we had a great laugh, and then wondered where in the world we should move the humidifier to.
The counter? Cluttered. A shelf? Can’t hold the weight. Media console? Too many electronics. My dresser? Well, it’s too far from a water source. A humidifier won’t help me if there are too many obstacles to refilling it. Plus, I have to make sure the lights won't bother me at night. I still haven't found the perfect spot. Where do you keep your humidifier?
If you have and are treating the symptoms of dry eye, humidifiers may be an essential part of your winter eye care strategy. Between the drier air and heating systems in many homes, our eyes take a hit this time of year. We need the humidity to be at a high enough level to keep our eye moisture from depleting even more quickly.
However, everyone benefits from having proper humidity. Studies have suggested that viruses, like the flu, may not be transmitted as easily if your humidity level is above 40%. The sweet spot for humidity is between 40-60%, as highly humid environments can bring new problems and can also be a bit uncomfortable.1
So perhaps you could have too many humidifiers for dry eye, but I’ve found it relatively easy to gauge humidity levels by comfort – and my eyes can certainly tell when it’s too dry!
What humidifier works best for you? Tell us about it in the comments!
Have you taken the 2023 Chronic Dry Eye In America survey?