The frigid temperatures and harsh, dry winds of winter can take a toll on your eyes. From staying hydrated to visiting a Lorton optometrist if you’re experiencing eye discomfort, there are a number of things you can do to protect your eyes during winter. Read on as Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist explains what causes common winter eye problems and what you can do to prevent and/or manage them. Factors Affecting Your Eyesight in Winter
Too much ultraviolet light exposure can increase the risk of cataracts and skin cancer. Experts recommend applying sunscreen on your skin and wearing sunglasses when doing outdoor activities. Did you know that you can get excessive UV exposure from the sun’s reflection on snowy surfaces?
Dry Outdoor Air
As temperatures drop, air also becomes colder and dryer. In winter, cold winds can dry out your skin and your eyes, both of which require sufficient moisture to remain healthy. Dry air exposure results in moisture loss through the surface of the eye, which is made up of 99 percent water. Excessive dehydration can lead to eye irritation.
Warm Indoor Air
Like dry outdoor air, dry indoor air can also be dehydrating and damaging to your skin and eyes. Heated indoor air often contains dehydrating elements and bacteria.
Common Eye Problems in Winter
Snow and ice-covered surfaces reflect a lot of sunlight, which can lead to light sensitivity for many individuals. Protect your eyes by wearing polarized, UV-blocking sunglasses if you’re experiencing discomfort, twitching or if you’re blinking more often than usual.
It’s possible to get a sunburn on your eyes. The reflected UV light from snow and ice can cause sunburns to unprotected parts of your body. If you’re experiencing increased light sensitivity, eye irritation or pain after spending time outside, especially under direct sunlight, then you may be experiencing an eye sunburn. Visit your eye doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent long-term damage. Over time, cumulative UV damage to your eyes can result in macular degeneration.
Dry Eyes and Irritation
Dry air can irritate your eyes and cause inflammation of the areas around your eyes. You can relieve symptoms by placing a cold, wet cloth or towel over the affected area. If that doesn’t help, then you may be suffering from seasonal allergies. See your eye doctor if the discomfort doesn’t go away. You can experience eye redness from seasonal allergies or snow blindness. Swollen eyelids, eyelid spasms or involuntary tics are all signs of eye irritation.
In some cases, winter elements can cause watery eyes and excessive tearing. In dry conditions, your eyes may actually produce too many tears. If you’re experiencing discomfort or vision problems, try wearing protective glasses or goggles when you step outside during the winter. You may be experiencing seasonal allergies if your eyes water up even when you’re inside.
Vision Changes and Snow Blindness
Temperatures can dip below freezing in some areas during the winter. Harsh temperatures can cause your body to restrict blood flow to certain areas to conserve heat for the vital organs. Sometimes, your eyes can be affected by this. You may experience immediate vision changes such as light sensitivity, double vision and vision loss. To increase blood flow, go to a warmer area. Seek medical help if your vision doesn’t return to normal within 30 minutes.
Ways to Keep Your Eyes Protected This Winter
Dry eye syndrome is common in winter, but one way to prevent this problem is by blinking more. The more you blink, the more moisture your eyes will produce in the form of tears. This can also help reduce dry eyes when doing activities that require dedicated visual attention, such as reading or working on the computer.
Use Artificial Tears
See an eye specialist if your dry eye syndrome persists. They may recommend artificial tears to lubricate your dry eyes.
Regulate Indoor Temperatures
If you already have dry eyes, it can get worse if the air inside your home is too dry. To ensure sufficient moisture retention in your eyes, set your central heating to a milder temperature and consider investing in a humidifier.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating right can help safeguard your visual health. Coldwater fish is a great source of omega-3 based essential fatty acids, which help you retain moisture in your eyes. Popular coldwater fish include tuna, halibut and mackerel.
One of the best defenses against dry eyes during winter is staying hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. This should provide your eyes enough moisture, which can help prevent eye problems in winter.
Use a Humidifier
Winter conditions can cause a significant loss of moisture in the air, which can negatively affect your indoor air quality. It can also exacerbate symptoms of dry eyes. Using a humidifier can be very beneficial in the winter.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time Near Heat Sources
Keep your distance from heat sources like heaters and radiators, especially if you already have dry eyes.
Wear Protective Sunglasses
Even on a cloudy winter day, the sun is still out and still producing UV rays. Reflected UV rays on snow and ice are dangerous for your eyes. Make sure to wear UV-blocking sunglasses even in winter and even if you’re just running a brief errand.
Keep in mind that proper protective eyewear is also important if you participate in winter sports. A pair of quality goggles helps ensure your eyes are protected even if you just want to walk around in the snow for a little while. Consult your local optometrist for advice on what type of protective eyewear would be best for you.
Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands and Eyes
It can be tempting to rub your eyes when they’re feeling dry, but try to avoid doing that. Instead of relief, this can cause further irritation, such as conjunctivitis. You must also keep your eyes clean. Before going to bed, wash your face thoroughly and be sure to remove all eye makeup. Never share your makeup or brushes with anyone because this can lead to germ swapping and infection.
Give Your Eyes a Break
Because you tend to spend more time indoors during winter, you might be using your digital devices more. When you’re focused on your device, you tend to blink less, reducing the amount of tears in your eyes. Rest your eyes from time to time by practicing the 20-20-20 rule: after 20 minutes of screen time, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Be Careful When Driving
Driving at night in the winter can be particularly challenging due to wet and slippery roads as well as blaring lights from oncoming vehicles. Exercise extreme caution when driving at night during the winter. Also, inspect the condition of your car’s lights, making sure they are clean and efficient.