Does a Humidifier Help With Dry Eyes? (Relief Explained)

As winter rolls in, the dry air starts causing me issues — including dry eyes. When my eyes start itching, I know it’s time to break out my trusty humidifier.

Humidifiers can relieve the symptoms of dry eyes by maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home. However, they may not work for every issue resulting in dry eyes.

I wrote this guide to explain whether a humidifier helps with dry eyes and how you can keep the mirrors of your soul healthy with proper air moisture.

How Different Humidifiers Can Help Your Dry Eyes

Certain types of humidifiers can reduce dry eye symptoms better than others. I know it can be confusing to figure out which kind is the best for your eyes.

I have listed the most common options to make the choice easier for you.

Warm vs. cool mist

Any humidifier can help with dry eyes. However, I recommend choosing a cool mist humidifier over a warm mist unit.

Warm mist humidifiers are great for helping with colds or sinus issues. The warm mist doesn’t do much for tear production or dry eyes, though.

Cool mist humidifiers are more efficient at humidifying your home, which is what you want. As such, a cool mist humidifier is the best option to treat your dry eye syndrome.

Ultrasonic vs. Evaporative

Ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers are the most common types of cool mist humidifiers. Out of the two, I would choose an evaporative unit for relieving dry eye symptoms.

Evaporative humidifiers dispense water vapor through a wick filter, which will trap dust or minerals that could cause further irritation in your dry eyes. They have higher running costs as you must replace the filter regularly, but the filtered air moisture is worth it in my books.

Ultrasonic humidifiers are my favorite units, but I wouldn’t necessarily use one as a humidifier for dry eyes. They have no filters, so irritating minerals or particles can be released into the air. I strongly advise using distilled or purified water in ultrasonic units to make them safe for your eyes.

Humidifier for Good Sleep

Whole House Humidifiers

A whole-house humidifier can be a great way to treat chronic dry eyes. These units attach to your HVAC system and disperse moisture to the whole house, instead of only one room.

Although whole-home units generally use warm water, I would still consider installing one if you experience dry eyes. Having steady humidity in every room of your home can be very helpful for your dry eye syndrome.

If you live in an area where environmental factors regularly cause dry air, I recommend looking into whole-home humidifiers. They can be expensive to install, though, and will require regular maintenance alongside your HVAC system.

Air Washers

An air washer combines a humidifier and an air purifier into one device. The humidifier unit increases moisture in the air, while the purifier removes irritants, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.

The cool mist they make can help your eyes produce enough tears to moisten your dry eyes. Fewer particles in the air will prevent irritation and give your ailing eyes a rest.

However, air washers require much care and maintenance to ensure they run efficiently and smoothly. If you can take care of the unit, though, I can recommend one for your home.

What Causes Dry Eyes At Home?

Humidifiers can treat dry eye symptoms, but they likely can’t address the root cause. It’s good to know why you have dry eyes so you can use your humidifier appropriately.

I’ve listed here a few common causes of dry eyes at home.

Seasons

Changing seasons affect air dryness. My eyes often dry up in winter months, as the cold, dry air dehydrates my eyes. Summer heat can make your tears evaporate, which also leads to dry eyes. A season-appropriate humidifier can maintain a healthy humidity level in your home to prevent dry eyes.

Air Conditioner

Any home air conditioner will reduce humidity levels as it heats or cools the air, which will affect your eyes too. Drier air in the house makes eye moisture evaporate faster, which can cause dry eye symptoms.

Health issues

Many illnesses and medical conditions can affect tear production and cause dry eyes. I once got a nasty eye infection that completely dried my eyes. Using a humidifier can provide relief, but you should see your healthcare provider to treat the illness causing your dry eyes.

Excessive screen time

I admit I spend too much time staring at computer screens, which dries my eyes out. Excessive screen time can make you blink less, which lets your eyes dry out. Screen flickering and low refresh rates also cause eye strain, which can make the issue worse.

Contact lenses

Contact lenses can seriously dry your eyes if worn for long periods. I recommend consulting your eye doctor to determine how long you should wear the lenses.


Iris of Eye Looking

How Does Humidity Affect Your Eyes?

Humidity levels at home should ideally remain between 30%-50%. Unless there is a medical reason for your dry eyes, this humidity level should keep your eyes moisturized. (1)

If the humidity in your home is low, your eyes will begin to dry through evaporation. You may notice itchy sensations, redness, or light sensitivity.

Excessive humidity, on the other hand, can encourage mold or bacterial growth. These airborne pollutants may irritate your eyes and cause dry eye symptoms.

Using a humidifier — together with a hygrometer — is an effective way to control humidity in your home. A humidifier can provide welcome relief from dry eyes in certain conditions. (2)

If you suffer from dry eyes, I recommend giving a humidifier a try!

Other Tips To Combat Dry Eyes

Aside from using a humidifier, you can treat dry eyes in many other ways. Here are some easy dry eye treatments that have helped me.

  • Frequent Blinking: Make a conscious effort to blink more often. Hold your eyes closed for a second to allow the moisture to spread evenly.
  • Don’t Blow Air Into Your Eyes: Be careful with your air conditioner, hair dryers, or fans. Airflow evaporates moisture from your eyeballs and can lead to dry eyes.
  • Position Your Computer Low: Placing your computer screen below eye level will prevent strain and slow the evaporation of your tears.
  • Limit Screen Time: Taking frequent breaks from computers and mobile devices reduces eye strain, which can help keep your eyes moisturized.
  • Wash Your Eyes: Using a damp cloth, cotton pad, or warm compress, massage your eye while closed. This can stimulate your tear ducts and remove debris.
  • Use Eye Drops: Eye drops or artificial tears can relieve eye dryness momentarily, but they’re often not a good long-term solution.
Woman Removing Eye Makeup

People Also Ask (FAQ)

What does dry eye look like?

Dry eyes will be red in the cornea or around the eye. You may feel like there’s something in your eyes and it can cause blurry vision or sensitivity to light.

Can you have just one dry eye?

You can have just one dry eye, although it’s rare. For example, certain infections or health conditions could affect only one of your eyes.

Do vaporizers help with dry eyes?

Vaporizers can help with dry eyes. However, they’re generally not as efficient as cool mist humidifiers for relieving dry eye symptoms.

Does dry eye go away naturally?

Dry eyes can go away naturally, depending on the underlying cause. If your dry eye problems don’t seem to get better, I recommend seeing a doctor.

Does drinking water help dry eyes?

Drinking water may help dry eyes. They can be a symptom of dehydration and drinking water can help make up for lost moisture in your body.

Conclusion

My eyes often dry up in winter months, and my humidifier has helped a lot with them. Maintaining healthy humidity levels in your home can provide some much-needed dry eye relief.

A humidifier is unlikely to resolve the root cause of your dry eyes. However, humidifiers can make you more comfortable by reducing redness and itchiness while you seek a working treatment!

Resources:

1) https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home#tab-6

2) https://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Abstract/2017/11000/Randomized_Trial_of_Desktop_Humidifier_for_Dry_Eye.9.aspx

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.