winter-eyehealth-vision.jpg Chances are that as it grows chillier, you’re thinking about summer more and more. Sadly, the season is still months away - but that doesn’t mean you need to wait to think about your vision and eye health.

While it’s important to protect our eyes during sunny summer vacations, the truth is that our eyes aren’t automatically safe from the elements because it’s not currently beach season. In fact, forgetting to protect our eyes from certain winter elements can be just as damaging as going out under the summer sun - as winter air and winds are well-known irritants that can create burning eyes, itchiness, and blurry vision!

To protect your eyes this season, be particularly sure to remember these three crucial eye care tips:

1) Protect your eyes from UV rays year-round. Though many people think of UV rays as a summertime issue only, this is simply not the case. Research has proven that sun exposure at any time during the year contributes to our risk of developing cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer. Worse, since sunlight reflects off of snow, in the right conditions it’s possible to be exposed to this sunlight twice during the winter months. Plus, winter weather can essentially create a sunburn on the eye - and, just like with skin, burns and damage can contribute to your risk of developing cancer or other serious eye issues. To protect your eyes from these conditions, be sure to keep a pair of 100% UV protection sunglasses on hand year round, starting now! (Active individuals who love being outdoors may also want to consider UV-protective goggles, particularly if they enjoy skiing rather than a leisurely hike.)

2) Keep your eyes moisturized. Winter air contains very little humidity - and this can dry out our lips, skin, and eyes alike. To minimize the effects of winter air, it’s best to avoid sitting near artificial heat sources, including fires and heaters; don’t forget to adjust the vents in your car so that the heat there doesn’t blast you directly in the face, either! In some cases, if your eyes are growing particularly irritated, it may be necessary to use a humidifier or eye drops to alleviate dryness. (However, patients that find themselves heavily relying on eye drops will want to meet with an eye doctor to confirm that the issue really is the winter air - and not an underlying eye issue such as dry eye.)

3) Wash your hands often and avoid contact with your eyes. Like eye protection, this is a must year-round - but since winter is the time for flu season, hand washing becomes particularly important during this time of the year. Our hands are the perfect carriers for various germs that could get us sick. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to help prevent the spread of the flu and eye-related illnesses like conjunctivitis (pink eye). Simply by washing your hands frequently, you’ll be able to reduce your risk of spreading germy hitchhikers. But just in case, try your best not to rub your eyes or touch them with your hands throughout the day.

These three simple eye tips can be extremely helpful in keeping your vision clear and healthy during the winter months. As a bonus tip, why not make an appointment for your annual eye exam? Annual eye exams are crucial in preventive eye care - so go ahead, visit our website, and get in touch with an office near you today for a basic eye exam and check-up, just to make sure that you’ll be able to see clearly throughout the year!