wintertime.jpeg (shutterstock_707286685.webp)We don't often think of winter as the time of year when our eyes need special protection against the elements, but they do. Dry air, wind, and bright, reflective snow create unique challenges that make it important to take extra precautions both in and outdoors. Read our latest blog to learn how to protect your eyes during the chilly winter months.

Why Eye Health is Important in Winter

Our eyes are sensitive and delicate organs that require proper care and attention to maintain good health. During the winter, cold and dry air can cause our eyes to become irritated, dry, red, itchy, or even painful. This is because the moisture in our eyes evaporates more quickly in low-humidity conditions, leading to discomfort and potential damage.

4 Tips To Ensure Good Ocular Health

1. UV Protection Is Not Just For Summer

Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of sunlight, even on cloudy days. When outdoors, always wear sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 percent protection against harmful UV rays (UV-A or UV-B) to protect your retinas. This is especially important if you partake in skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or any other activity that requires you to be outside for an extended period of time. 

It's equally important to note that sun glare from the snow can lead tosnow blindness (photokeratitis), a painful condition that results in blurry vision, tearing, and sensitivity to bright light. Ski goggles/visors or any safety glasses should be worn to provide maximum protection against snow, ice, dirt, and debris as well.

2. Wash Your Hands & Avoid Touching Your Eyes

Winter is a critical time of year for eye hygiene due to the increased prevalence of the cold and flu virus, and conjunctivitis, which are all highly contagious. Touching an infected surface before rubbing your eyes introduces germs to your immune system very quickly. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes in public places, and always wash your hands before touching your eyes or putting in contact lenses. If you feel the need to rub your eyes often, you may want to consider eye drops to make sure they aren't overly dry. 

3. Keep Your Eyes Moisturized

Cold air and indoor heating both cause rapid evaporation of moisture in the air, which leaves us with a thinner layer of tears. Take the following steps to avoid dry eyes:

  • Decrease how much time you wear your contact lenses. Lenses can wick tears away from the eyes, so swap out your lenses for glasses. 
  • Use humidifiers to increase the moisture level in your living/working space.
  • Purchase over-the-counter artificial tears, and put some drops in before you head outdoors. 
  • Keep artificial heat sources and fans away from your face.

If yourdry eye is chronic or severe, make an appointment with a certifiedophthalmologist. There are a variety of successful treatments for dry eyes that vary depending on the specific cause of the condition. 

4. Make Sure You Have Adequate Lighting

Many people will continue working from home this winter, and with the days being shorter and darker, it's important to ensure a well-lit workspace. Dim lighting makes it harder to see and can lead to eye strain, so have good lighting close to you whenever you need it (e.g. a desk light or sun lamp.) Sit close to a window during the day for some natural light, especially if you need to read small text.

Trust Everett & Hurite for Your Eye Health

Maintaining eye health during winter requires a proactive approach to protect against unique seasonal challenges. Adhering to the tips outlined above will help you keep your eyes healthy through the colder months. Remember, routine visits to your eye doctor can play a crucial role in preventing and diagnosing vision problems early. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam regularly to ensure any changes to your vision or eye health are monitored closely. Your vision is invaluable; don't wait until problems arise. 

The expert ophthalmologists at Everett & Hurite are committed to providing high-quality eye care to patients of all ages. Our eye health care team is equipped with the latest technology to accurately diagnose a wide variety of eye conditions and can develop a customized treatment plan based on your individual needs. We have10 officesconveniently located in Western Pennsylvania.Request an appointment with one of the physicians or call 412-288-0858.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can staring at a computer screen for long periods affect my eyes?

Yes, this can lead to computer vision syndrome, which can cause eye strain, headaches, and dry eyes. It's important to take breaks and follow proper ergonomics when using electronic devices. 

Is there a way to prevent age-related macular degeneration?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent age-related macular degeneration, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as not smoking, exercising regularly, and consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk.

Can high blood pressure affect my eye health?

Yes, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the retina and increase the risk for eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. It's important to monitor and manage high blood pressure to protect your overall health, including your eyes.