Whether you’re ready for it or not, winter is here. With its harsh weather conditions and low temperatures, the cold that comes with the season can pose unique challenges to eye health.
From the drying effects of indoor heating to the glaring reflection of sunlight on snow-covered surfaces, your eyes are exposed to various risks during this time of the year.
However, if you know how to properly protect your eyes, you can steer clear of any pain or discomfort to your eyes this winter.
Ways to protect your eyes this winter
Small changes in your environment can have a big impact on the health of your eyes. Be sure to implement these simple measures to protect your eyes this winter.
Snow has a strong ability to reflect UV radiation — as much as 80% of UV radiation, according to the World Health Organization. Too much exposure to UV rays in the winter can lead to cataracts, blindness, and even cancer, so it’s essential to take preventive measures to protect your eyes if you have plans to be outside.
Decrease glare from the snow and limit UV exposure by wearing sunglasses or goggles, even when it’s cloudy. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends choosing sunglasses that block out 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen 75 to 90% of visible light for adequate protection.
If you find yourself in a situation without sunglasses, reach for a wide-brimmed hat or scarf to wrap around your head to try and shade your eyes. Any protection is better than none!
Use eye drops
Tears play a vital role in keeping our eyes moist and healthy. During the winter, cold temperatures and low humidity levels cause your eyes to dry up faster. Without moisture in your eyes, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms associated with dry eyes including gritty and/or burning sensations, redness, light sensitivity, or itchiness.
Artificial tear eye drops can help replenish lost moisture and therefore protect your eyes. You can find these eye drops at most drugstores without a prescription. If you continue to experience symptoms of dry eyes after implementing moisturizing eye drops, reach out to your eye doctor.
Keep contacts moist
Due to colder and drier conditions, people with lenses may experience drier and scratchier eyes as their lenses dry out faster. Dry lenses may also impact the wearer’s vision.
If you wear contacts, the AOA recommends keeping the air around you moist with humidifiers or using rewetting drops to keep the lenses from drying out too fast.
Wash your hands often
Winter months also present a higher risk of certain illnesses that can affect your eyes, including conjunctivitis, which is more commonly known as pink eye. The reason for the higher risk? Conjunctivitis is usually caused by viruses, such as the cold, flu, or COVID-19 that are more prevalent in the winter season coming into contact with your eyes.
To lower your risk, avoid directly touching high-contact items such as doorknobs, wash your hands frequently, and limit touching your eyes to keep germs out.
Protect your eyes all year long
Winter may pose certain challenges when it comes to eye health, but your eyes and vision need to be protected all year round.