Dry eyes is a condition that occurs when a person’s eyes are not making enough moisture. Symptoms include sore, itchy, red eyes, and blurry vision. There are various causes and treatment options, including using a humidifier.

Typically, eyes produce tears to maintain and protect the health of the eye surface and to keep vision clear.

Dry eyes can result from weather and environmental conditions, aging, wearing contact lenses, certain medications, or some medical conditions. When eyelids blink, a functioning eyelid will produce tears to lubricate the front surface of the eye.

This article takes a closer look at the condition of dry eyes and whether a humidifier can help with symptoms.

Dry eyes occur when the eye does not produce enough tears to keep it lubricated.

Regular lubrication of the eyes is essential to:

  • wash any foreign bodies out of the eye
  • reduce eye infection risk
  • smooth the outer eye surface and keep it clear of anything that might interfere with vision

Tears consist of water, oil, and mucus, which need to be in balance for protection. Dry eyes happen when these components are out of balance.

A person with dry eye may experience the following symptoms:

  • gritty feeling
  • itchy eyes
  • over-watery eyes
  • blurry vision
  • sore eyes
  • sensitivity to light
  • red eyes

Dry eyes can adversely affect vision and health. If the condition worsens, it can affect a person’s quality of life.

Environmental factors may contribute to chronic dry eyes.

A 2017 study suggests that there may be some benefits to using a humidifier for people who frequently use computers. Some participants noted a modest improvement in eye dryness.

However, the study was small, and the humidifier did not completely improve symptoms.

A person should consider several factors when deciding which humidifier to buy:

  • Budget: Budget is a top consideration that may impact the quality and features available to the person.
  • The size of the room: Most humidifiers operate best in a single room rather than a whole house.
  • The size of the humidifier: This depends on the size of the room where the humidifier operates.
  • Brand reputation: Check out a range of brands to identify the products with the best safety features.
  • Size of water holder: This will impact how long the humidifier can operate.

People can use a humidifier to maintain humidity all night long.

A 2018 study suggests that controlled humidity of between 40–60% is optimal for sleep.

If a person is using the humidifier to relieve dry eyes due to the use of the computer screen, then they will need to run the humidifier for as long as they use the computer.

Take care to introduce the right amount of moisture into the atmosphere. Too much moisture can also cause issues, including black mold.

The following may cause dry eyes:

  • smoke or wind
  • extremely dry climates
  • air conditioning or heating
  • certain medications, such as beta-blockers
  • some medical conditions, such as Sjögren’s syndrome
  • inflammation of the eye, including blepharitis
  • meibomian gland dysfunction (MGB)
  • eye injury or eye surgery
  • changes in hormone levels
  • wearing contact lenses
  • heavy use of screens

Dry eye treatment can increase eye hydration by reducing water loss in the eye.

Treatments may include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) solutions: OTC options may help with mild dry eyes. A person can add eye drops when needed. Ideally, choose drops that do not contain preservatives or additives, as these ingredients can irritate already dry eyes. Moderate dry eye cases may need further treatment.
  • Eye drops or ointment: A healthcare professional may prescribe these treatments for eye inflammation.
  • Warm compresses or eyelid massage: These may help to reduce inflammation.
  • Supplements: People can take these orally. They may help by increasing the eye’s production of tears.
  • Small, artificial tear duct plugs: These help block tear ducts to help maintain eye moisture for longer. Where necessary, a surgical procedure can achieve the same goal.

Learn whether it’s possible to cure dry eye permanently here.

Below are some commonly asked questions about dry eyes.

How can a person hydrate dry eyes?

A person can hydrate dry eyes by doing the following:

  • cleaning their eyelids every day
  • taking breaks to rest their eyes when using a computer screen
  • using a humidifier to stop the air from getting dry
  • if they wear contact lenses, taking them out and wearing glasses to rest the eyes

Can dehumidifiers cause dry eyes?

A dry environment can cause a person’s tears to dry up faster and lead to dry eye. With that in mind, a dehumidifier may cause dry eyes as it makes the air dryer.

When should a person not use a humidifier?

Humidifiers can aggravate some conditions, such as allergies to mold or dust mites and asthma. Therefore, in such situations, it may be best to avoid using a humidifier.

Dry eyes can be caused by several factors. If the condition is mild, people can treat it using OTC medication. For more severe symptoms, talk with a doctor or another health professional for advice.

If a person’s dry eyes is due to their environment or long-term computer use, a humidifier might help.