Why Do I Shed Tears in Cold Weather?

Colder temperatures of a central Illinois winter bring all kinds of challenges; slick roads, frigid fingers, and icy wind chills. Of course, your eyes aren’t exempt from the effects of cold, windy weather. You may have noticed that even a short time spent outside in winter conditions can cause your eyes to water. No, those aren’t tears of sadness for warmer days past. Your eyes water on cold days because the dry air causes the thin layer of moisture that protects your eye to rapidly evaporate and your blood vessels to constrict. In response, a reflex is triggered that tells the lacrimal gland, the eye gland that secretes an aqueous layer of tear film, to produce extra tears. This response helps to keep your eyes lubricated. 

If you find yourself shedding tears on a cold day, know that you’re not alone. This is a normal and healthy response by your body to protect your eyes. This response can be bothersome if you’re working outside or participating in outdoor activities during the winter months. Take comfort, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the occurrence of tears on cold days.

Wear glasses

Not only can glasses prevent wind from directly impacting your eyes, but they can also help reduce moisture loss by keeping the air in between your glasses and eyes humid. Clear or UV protective lenses work just as well for this purpose.  If you want extra protection, try wrap-around style glasses.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated may help your eyes be less likely to become dry and inflamed in the chilly winter weather.  Drinking the proper amount of water for your size, metabolism, diet, physical activity and overall health will keep the moisture level in your eyes sufficient before heading out in the cold, lessening the need for your body to compensate with additional tear production.

Add moisture

It seems counterintuitive to add moisture to prevent watery eyes, but lubricating eyedrops will stop your eyes from becoming dry so quickly, thus reducing the need for your body to produce additional moisture. Two drops before you go out into the elements can go a long way to prevent the nuisance of weather-related teary eyes.

Suffering from watery eyes due to chilly winter weather can range from a minor annoyance to extremely frustrating. If you continue to struggle with the symptoms of watery eyes, or if you suspect that the source of your overly watery eyes is something other than cold weather, contact Illinois Eye Center for a consultation with one of our highly trained doctors.

Memorial Day Holiday Hours

Saturday 5/25 – Peoria Office by Appointment Only
All Other Offices Closed

Monday 5/27 – All Offices Closed

Tuesday 5/28 – Resume Normal Hours at All Locations

Illinois Eye Center is open today, 01/23/2024, at all locations.

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Holiday Hours

Saturday, 9/2

Peoria office open by appointment only

(Pekin & Washington are always closed on Saturdays)

Monday, 9/4

All offices closed

Tuesday, 9/5

Peoria & Pekin offices resume normal hours

Note: The Washington office will remain closed for renovations until Monday, Sept 18. 2023