Oh Calgary, don’t you ever change. If there’s one thing we love, it’s your early-October snowfalls. According to WeatherStats.ca, Calgary has already received 8.6cm of snow- hooray? While the forecast for the next couple of weeks looks better (low-teens, mostly), we all know that can and will change.
What won’t change is the overall humidity of Calgary’s air. Calgary, and most of southern Alberta, resides in a fairly arid climate. We get rain and snow, yes, but due to continuous air circulation and our distance from any major bodies of water, the air here is quite dry.
As anyone who has ever lived somewhere else can tell you, Calgary’s dry air takes a bit of time to get used to.
Why Does Calgary’s Dry Air Matter?
As eye care professionals with offices in both Calgary and Didsbury, we see thousands of patients each year suffering from various eye diseases and conditions that cause pain and discomfort. One particular eye condition we encounter frequently is dry eye syndrome, which absolutely thrives in our arid prairie climate.
Ambient Air Quality & Its Impacts on Dry Eye
One of the major contributing factors to dry eye is ambient air quality. Dry eye is caused by poor lubrication on the eye (due to either a lack of lubrication, poor-quality lubrication, or a combination of both). Air quality has a big role to play here.
We assess air quality in several ways:
- Cleanliness – pollution, smog, dust, etc. influence this
- Temperature – colder air is less than ideal for eye health
- Wind speed – in addition to forcing dust/allergens into the eye, wind also causes dehydration
- Humidity – the lower the humidity, the faster moisture leaves the eye
As you can see, Calgary’s air-quality deck is often stacked in dry eye’s favour.
Improving Air Quality By Increasing Air Cleanliness & Humidity
While you certainly can’t control the weather, you can absolutely influence your home’s air quality. The two best ways you can do this are by improving air cleanliness and humidity levels.
Ensuring You’re Always Breathing Clean Air
Clean air benefits your eyes just as much as it does your lungs. A good first-step in controlling ambient air quality is to install adequate air filtration. All forced-air furnaces in Calgary use a furnace filter, though you can up the ante significantly by getting a specialized air filter system. Many companies in Calgary offer this service (such as Action Furnace).
Higher-end air filtering removes most dust and allergens from the air. This not only helps you breathe easy, but it helps stave off dry eye, too.
Crank the Humidifier
By ensuring adequate humidity, you greatly reduce the amount of moisture your eye sheds to the surrounding air. In effect, this increases how long your body’s natural eye lubrication has to do its job.
Most homeowners in Calgary have a central humidifier installed. If so, turn that puppy up to 11 until your home is sitting with indoor humidity levels averaging around 50%. You can go a bit higher if you want, though you may begin to notice water condense on windows due to the temperature disparity between the two sides of the window panes.
Getting Nowhere With Your Dry Eye? Let Us Help.
We are fully equipped to diagnose and manage dry eye. Both of our offices in Calgary and Didsbury utilize the latest in dry eye technologies and treatments, and our optometrists have years of experience treating Calgarians for dry eye.
We welcome you to connect with us- we are here to help.