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 because 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. The first solution is to wear protective glasses or goggles to keep the wind from drying your eyes. You can also try using saline eyedrops right before you go outside, then refresh periodically while youre in the cold air. Also, use a humidifier inside and blink more to refresh your tears.
What triggers dry eye in the first place? Have you started taking decongestants? Theyll 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.Or it could be from an infection that will require medication.
Try the home remedies first. If they dont work, or if you also have red or sore eyes, discharge around the rims of your eyes, or you also have dry mouth or unusual joint pain, see your doctor.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.