Our state is definitely a winter wonderland, but there are some common winter eye problems that can really detract from your enjoyment of the season, affecting your comfort as well as your vision. This winter, follow these helpful tips and don’t let your eyes be a drag on all the fun!
Don’t dry out. Cold winter air is naturally drier than warm air, and heating it makes it even drier. That means, whether you’re indoors or out, your tears evaporate faster in winter than in other months. This goes double for people who wear soft contact lenses, as those lenses stay hydrated by pulling tears from the surface of your eye. Here are some simple things you can do to help keep your eyes moist:
1. Drink plenty of water! Like chapped lips, dry eyes are often an indication of overall dehydration.
2. Consider taking an Omega-3 supplement such as fish oil or flax seed oil, as those have been shown to improve the lipid layer of your tears, causing them to evaporate more slowly.
3. Carry artificial tears or rewetting drops in your pocket or purse. For very dry winter eyes, a drop or two can improve comfort and vision tremendously.
Protect yourself! Winter presents some sneaky risks to your eye health. Here are some things you can do to ensure your eyes are healthy and happy in the short as well as the long term.
4. Wash those hands! (And keep them away from your face!) Winter is a time when a lot of colds and other viruses go around, and many of them can be spread to the eyes via the hands. It’s a time when hand washing and sanitizing are more important than ever – for you and for your kids as well.
5. Wear sunglasses. The winter sun may not seem as bright or warm as the summer sun, but it’s every bit as capable of hurting your eyes. Sun reflected from snow is particularly dangerous. Ocular sun damage can range anywhere from mild temporary discomfort all the way up to permanent damage to the retina and optic nerve. Get a good pair of 100% UV blocking sunglasses, and wear them anytime you’re outdoors during the day.
With these simple (and inexpensive) strategies, you can help make sure that you and your family are able to get out there and enjoy winter to its fullest. If you find yourself experiencing discomfort or vision issues that aren’t alleviated by these steps, make an appointment with a qualified eye care provider – he or she can diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate interventions.