DRS. OZ AND ROIZEN — Q & A
'Tis the season for tearing up
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 3:21 p.m.
Q: Every time I go outside in cold weather, my eyes tear a lot. What causes it, and can I stop it?
— Andy K., Chicago
A: Tearing up in cold weather is common and can be triggered by a number of things. The No. 1 trigger is dry eyes, since cold wind increases evaporation of moisture from the top layer of your cornea, exaggerating problems with dryness you may have already. When that happens, your brain sends a message — “Dry Alert!” — and orders your tear glands to juice up.
If this is what's happening with you, the first solution is to wear protective glasses or goggles to keep the wind from drying your eyes.
If glasses don't do the trick, you can try using saline eyedrops right before you go outside. Then refresh periodically while you're in the cold air. Also, use a humidifier inside, and blink more to refresh your tears.
What triggers dry eye in the first place? Here are some possible causes:
Have you started taking decongestants because of a cold or indoor allergies? Decongestants dry you up.
Are you exposed to airborne or contact allergens? If yes, try an over-the-counter antihistamine eyedrop, and stop letting the cat sleep on or near your bed!
Are you regularly exposed to smoke, yours or secondhand? Either quit (if you smoke) or exit that environment, pronto!
Two more possibilities:
Excess tearing could be from an autoimmune condition that attacks your tear-producing glands. The remedy is a prescription eyedrop, sometimes with an immune-suppressing ingredient or a steroid.
Or it could be from an infection, such as conjunctivitis; that'll require medication for relief.
Give the home remedies a try first. But if they don't work, or if you also have red or sore eyes, any kind of discharge around the rims of your eyes, or you also have dry mouth or unusual joint pain, go see your doctor ASAP.
Submit your health questions at www.doctoroz.com.