The Impact of Calgary's High Altitude on Dry Eyes

The Impact of Calgary's High Altitude on Dry Eyes

Dealing with dry eyes involves more than just coping with discomfort; it requires a holistic approach to eye health. This guide offers five transformative tips to alleviate dry eyes, emphasizing the importance of creating a moisture-rich environment, enhancing nutrition with omega-3 fatty acids, staying hydrated, taking regular breaks from screens to reduce eye strain, and using artificial tears judiciously. Additionally, it highlights the crucial role of regular check-ups with eye care professionals to tailor treatments and monitor eye health. By integrating these strategies, individuals can significantly improve their comfort and quality of life, addressing dry eyes not just as a temporary inconvenience but as a manageable condition with targeted, effective solutions.

In the heart of Canada's western province of Alberta, the vibrant city of Calgary stands as a testament to both the beauty and challenges that come with living at a higher altitude. Nestled in the shadow of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Calgary's unique geographical location at over 1,000 meters above sea level gifts its residents with breathtaking views, an abundance of outdoor activities, and a distinct climate. However, this elevated lifestyle comes with its own set of health considerations, one of which is the increased prevalence of dry eye syndrome. Understanding the impact of Calgary's high altitude on dry eye is essential for those living in or moving to the area, as well as for healthcare providers aiming to offer effective solutions.

The Dry Climate and Low Humidity

Calgary's high altitude contributes to its dry climate and low humidity levels, factors that are closely linked to the discomfort and symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome. At higher elevations, the air becomes thinner and holds less moisture, leading to a higher rate of tear evaporation on the eye's surface. This can cause a sensation of dryness, irritation, and a gritty feeling in the eyes, as if there's something in them that shouldn't be there. For residents of Calgary, this means that the joy of gazing out at the stunning landscapes can sometimes be marred by the discomfort of dry eyes, urging a need for awareness and proactive measures to mitigate these symptoms.

Increased Exposure to Wind and Sun

The geographical expanse of Calgary, with its open spaces and proximity to the mountains, also exposes residents to higher levels of wind and sun, both of which can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. The wind can increase tear evaporation, leaving the eyes feeling parched and uncomfortable, while the sun's UV rays can cause damage and contribute to eye dryness. Individuals who enjoy Calgary's outdoor lifestyle, from hiking in the summer to skiing in the winter, may find these activities contributing to their dry eye symptoms, highlighting the importance of protective eyewear and the use of artificial tears as preventive measures.

Lifestyle Factors and Indoor Heating

The lifestyle embraced by many Calgary residents, which includes spending significant time in heated indoor environments during the long winter months, can also contribute to dry eye symptoms. Heating systems reduce indoor humidity levels, further drying out the air and potentially exacerbating eye dryness. This, combined with increased screen time, whether for work or leisure, can strain the eyes further. The blink rate decreases while focusing on screens, reducing tear production and leading to more pronounced dry eye symptoms. Recognizing these lifestyle factors and adopting changes, such as using a humidifier and taking regular screen breaks, can help manage dry eye in Calgary's unique environment.

Altitude's Effect on Oxygen Availability

Living at a high altitude, such as in Calgary, impacts the body's oxygen availability, which can indirectly affect eye health, including the exacerbation of dry eye symptoms. The lower oxygen levels at higher elevations can lead to a decrease in tear production and a change in the composition of tears, making them less effective at keeping the eyes moist and comfortable. This physiological response underscores the need for residents to be cognizant of their eye health and seek strategies to counteract these effects, such as staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can support tear production.

The splendor of Calgary's landscape, marked by its proximity to the Rocky Mountains and its elevated position, brings with it the challenge of dealing with dry eye syndrome for many of its residents. The factors contributing to this condition—ranging from the dry, low-humidity climate to lifestyle choices and the physiological effects of high altitude—highlight the importance of understanding and addressing dry eye with empathy and care. For those living in or visiting Calgary, recognizing these contributing factors and taking proactive steps, such as using humidifiers, wearing sunglasses, and staying hydrated, can help mitigate the impact of dry eye and improve overall eye health. Healthcare providers in the area play a crucial role in educating the community about these impacts and offering solutions to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Calgary's high-altitude environment with comfort and clarity. As we continue to explore and adapt to our surroundings, let us do so with an awareness of how our environment shapes our health, and with the knowledge and tools to live well within it.

Written on behalf of Blink Eyewear.


Dry eye in Calgary is primarily caused by the city's high altitude, which leads to a dry climate, low humidity, increased exposure to wind and sun, and lifestyle factors such as indoor heating and screen time.

Increased screen time can lead to a decreased blink rate, reducing tear production and exacerbating dry eye symptoms.

Using a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air, taking regular breaks from screens, wearing protective eyewear outdoors, and maintaining a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help.

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