5 Winter Eye Care Tips
During the cold winter months, there’s nothing quite like being on the couch or your favorite comfy chair with a warm drink and your favorite book, game, or show. While your winter traditions may include a mug of hot cocoa and time spent in front of a fire, this year add eye care to the list of holiday traditions! Cold weather, in-home heating, and warm drinks like cocoa or coffee can all cause eye problems. It’s important to remember to take care of your eyes so you can enjoy everything that makes this season wonderful for years to come. Below, we’ll go over common eye problems and ways to protect yourself.
5 Tips to Avoid Winter Eye Troubles
1. Avoid Being Too Close to Your Heater or Heating Source
While it may seem tempting to cozy up to a space heater, fireplace, or the nearest vent in your home, doing so may cause your eyes to feel dry and itchy. Heating up our homes removes moisture in the air, and the closer you are to the heat source, the drier the air is. Time spent in front of a fireplace gives us that quintessential “cozy” feeling, but remember to take care of your eyes when doing so. You can use moisturizing eye drops or purchase a humidifier for your home, but the best practice is to stay further back from your homes heat source (a good rule of thumb is to try and stay 20 feet away from an open heat source).
2. Wear Sunglasses (Yes–Even in the Winter!)
When we think of wearing sunglasses, we think bright blue summer skies, laying on a beach or riding in a car, certainly not the dreary winter months. However, the sun is just as powerful in the winter as it is in the summer, and the UV Rays can do just as much damage to your eyes, no matter the temperature. In fact, snow reflects UV light and can do more damage to your eyes than you might expect, and could cause something called Snow Blindness.
Photokeratitis (also called Snow Blindness) is caused primarily by UV rays being reflected off ice and snow and is extra common in places where the air is thinner. Snow Blindness can also refer to the freezing or severe drying of the cornea’s surface caused by cold wind. Symptoms of Snow Blindness includes pain, redness, gritty feeling, sensitivity to light, headache, seeing halos, small pupils, eyelid twitching, and in rare cases, temporary vision loss.
So whether you are out skiing, playing winter sports, driving to a relatives for holiday celebrations, or outside for any other reason, don’t forget to wear sunglasses or darkened goggles to help protect from sun glare and harsh UV exposure. Keeping your eyes protected from the glare of the sun is easy with the proper eyewear. Plus, everybody loves a stylish pair of sunglasses!
3. Hydrate Well
During the short winter days and long winter nights, there’s nothing like a cup of coffee or tea to keep us warm. Cozying up on the couch with a hot mug and a good book or your favorite tv show is something we all enjoy, and it’s easy to forget to drink water. However, staying hydrated is important not just for your overall health, but also for your eye health. Being dehydrated can lead to dry eyes, which can cause damage to the surface of your eyes, leading to inflammation, ulcers, and even vision loss.
4. Use a Humidifier
In addition to drinking lots of water, one way to help prevent dry eyes caused by dehydration is to use a humidifier. Whether you’re in an office or working from home this winter, investing in a desktop humidifier can help keep your eyes healthy and prevent dry eyes. Many places experience increased dryness during the winter from cold air and indoor heating, which can both take a toll on your eye health. Not only does the dry air affect our eye health, but eye strain caused by looking at a monitor for too long can be just as harmful. Remember to take regular breaks and blink often when working on a computer for an extended period of time.
If you don’t work a desk job, remember to protect your eyes from dry winter air by using glasses or goggles!
5. Contact Lens Solution Drops
Finally, if you wear contacts, purchasing contact lens solution drops can help protect your eyes in the winter. Wearing contacts can dry our eyes out any time of the year, but in the winter weather it’s more important than ever that we protect our eyes by using a lens solution eye drop or artificial tears. Retaining moisture in your eyes is a crucial step to maintaining healthy eyes.
A bonus step in helping keeping your eyes in great health in cold and drier conditions is a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor.
In addition to checking your vision, they will perform a custom evaluation of the eye and tear film to find the contact lenses that best match your need.
This winter, following these tips is an important part of your daily eye care routine. Dry eyes can be caused by a multitude of factors, including heat sources (like heaters and fires), cold winds, and sun glare to name just a few. Itchy and dry eyes affect your vision both in short-term discomfort and in long-term adverse effects. So while you’re indoors, cozied up with your loved ones, don’t forget to stay hydrated, blink more often, and make an appointment for your yearly eye exam!
Dr. Eric Torgerson
Owner at Poudre Valley Eyevare
Dr. Eric Torgerson is the owner of Poudre Valley Eyecare, and has been recognized for his contributions to optometry and his commitment to community health through various roles and accolades within the Northern Colorado Optometric Society and the Colorado Optometric Association.
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Our advanced technology and individualized care deliver results for patients of all ages. Our routine exams allow us to spot changes in your vision and allow us to treat those changes early. We have a comprehensive understanding of eye care, which means we can treat a wide range of conditions and chronic diseases. Our in-depth routine exams and customized treatment plans set us apart from the rest.