An eye looks worried as it's surrounded by water and smoke on one side, and fire on the other.

Seasonal Dry Eye Flareup

Last updated: November 2022

I am experiencing the worst flareup with dry eyes I can ever remember having, as of my writing this.

I usually cope fairly well with my routine of lubricant eyedrops three times a day and the use of gel drops at night. I round out my routine by using my Bruder eye mask twice a day for 10 minutes.

Recently, though, I experienced the worst dry eye pain I can remember. By 8 o’clock at night my eyes were so dry I literally could not open them. When they reach this point, no amount of eyedrops provide any relief. I put in my usual gel drops at bedtime but was up again by 3AM this morning using drops to make it through the night.

Seasonal factors

I struggled more than usual this summer. We had record-breaking heat and extremely low humidity. I live in southeast Oklahoma, known for its high humidity. The increased use of air conditioning and ceiling fans caused me more misery than usual with my eyes.

Fall usually makes my dry eyes worse due to allergies. That is not the case this year. It was too dry for ragweed and goldenrod to bloom. We were still experiencing 100-degree days in September. Add in extreme drought, and a bad situation is made worse. The humidity continued to be extremely low, causing painful dry eyes.

Wildfires

Oklahoma rarely experiences wildfires as the western part of the U.S. does. Unfortunately extreme drought, heat, and continual winds caused wildfires close to our home. The smoky air caused further irritation to my eyes. I love fall and want to spend time outdoors. With all the smoke, I ventured outdoors only when necessary.

Stress

I am experiencing more stress than usual. Like most people, inflation is making the cost of everything to go up. That includes my dry eye drops.

My husband was having knee replacement in October, and that caused added stress. He is the primary driver in the family. Having both macular degeneration and chronic dry eyes, my vision isn’t the best. I know he can’t drive for 6-8 weeks, so I worry about that.

I didn’t realize how stress can make dry eyes worse until a question was asked about it on our website. Through my research I learned it can affect dry eyes.1

One way stress impacts our dry eyes is by distraction. I worry I may forget to use my drops or Bruder eye mask as often as I should.

Action plan

I use reminders on my phone for grocery lists and other things I don’t want to forget. Until I get my flareup under control, I will set a reminder for using my daytime drops. I will do the same for using my Bruder eye mask and may increase using it to 3 times daily.

Since my gel drops aren’t working all night, I plan to switch to an eye ointment.

My final step is to purchase a humidifier. Hopefully all these steps help relieve the pain.

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