Learn how to keep your eyes healthy during the winter

Maintaining your eye health and preserving your vision are extremely important year-round, but winter presents a number of challenges and obstacles that are exclusive to the colder months. If you don’t know how to care for your eyes in the winter, you could experience vision changes.

Obviously, no one wants that to happen and we all want to enjoy the wonderful gift of sight for as long as possible -- through the winter, spring, summer, or fall. If that’s your goal, then there are several things you can start doing today to protect your eyes during the freezing winter months.

Don’t worry, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about eye care and eye health during the winter months -- including the most common eye problems in the winter and tips on how to care for your eyes in the winter. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get started!

Most Common Eye Problems During the Winter Months

Before we can get into any tips on how to protect your eyes when the seasons change, it’s important that you understand the many dangers your eyes face during the winter. The truth is there are a wide variety of factors that can have a negative impact on eye health and vision. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent:

  • Dry and Cold Air - the winter months bring dry and cold air, which the eyes aren’t a fan of. This speeds up the evaporation process and results in less moisture in the eye.
  • UV Exposure - we already know that we’re exposed to UV light on a daily basis, but this is intensified during the winter months due to the reflection of UV rays off of snow. 
  • Increased Screen Time - not only do we generally spend more time on our phones and laptops during the winter, but the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified this further.
  • More Time Indoors - it’s common to spend more time indoors during the colder months. That means more exposure to indoor heating systems and increased dehydration.

Together, these factors can wreak havoc on your eye health and result in a number of unwanted eye problems -- including dry eyes, excessive tears or watery eyes, and photokeratitis (snow blindness). Don’t worry, we’ll explain each eye problem in a little more detail for you below:

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes in the winter are often caused by a culmination of colder temperatures, high winds, low humidity, and the dependence on central heating, fireplaces, and space heaters. Much like the skin losing moisture in the winter, so do the eyes as a result of evaporation -- hence dry eyes.

Excessive Tears (Watery Eyes)

Tears play an important role in the overall health and function of the eyes. Since evaporation increases during the winter months, the eyes are often left with less tears than needed. In response, the lacrimal gland produces excess tears, which leads to watery eyes in the winter.

Snow Blindness (Photokeratitis)

Also known as photokeratitis, snow blindness occurs when the eyes are exposed to an excess amount of UV light. Exposure is intensified during the winter due to the sun’s reflection on snow. This is a large reason why many winter athletes (skiing, snowboarding, etc.) wear goggles.

Man on top of a mountain

Tips on How to Care for Your Eyes in the Winter:

Between the cold and dry air, excess UV exposure, and more time indoors, you can start to see how the winter months can be so damaging to your eye health. That’s why it’s so important that you follow the best tips, advice, and guidance when caring for your eyes this winter season. 

Don’t worry, we’re going to share with you some of our most prominent tips below:

  • To prevent dry eyes, use over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears)
  • If the humidity in your home is too low, invest in a humidifier
  • Avoid the use of fans and prevent drafts in your home to reduce evaporation in the eyes
  • Always wear sunglasses when outside in the sun and avoid the use of contact lenses
  • Always wear protective goggles when skiing, snowboarding, or any other winter sport
  • Regulate the temperature indoors and avoid setting the central heating too high
  • Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet to ensure your eyes receive the nutrients they need
  • Stay hydrated and aim for eight glasses of water per day
  • Wash your face and maintain proper eye hygiene throughout the winter months
  • Avoid picking, rubbing, or touching your eyes to avoid spreading bacteria and germs
  • Be mindful of how much time your eyes spend in front of the screen (phone, computer, etc.)
  • If you notice any symptoms of believe you’re experiencing any issues with your health, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist
  • When looking at a screen, sit by a window or make sure you have proper lighting
  • Make sure you spend quality time outside; avoid spending large amounts of time indoors
  • Open your windows for at least a couple minutes each day
  • Make sure your sunglasses have anti-glare and anti-reflection coating, as well as UV protection

Your eye health is important to your quality of life, which is why it’s always important to take care of your eyes year-round. Of course, that means understanding the various dangers that present themselves in the winter weather. Now that you know what they are and how to protect your eyes from the cold, you can properly avoid them!

coastal eye surgeons front desk

Don’t Forget About Your Annual Eye Exam With Dr. Omar Shakir!

The tips above will go a long way in helping your eyes stay healthy this winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s fool-proof. In the event you experience eye troubles and believe it’s due to the wintery cold weather, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Omar Shakir at Coastal Eye Surgeons right away. 

Of course, you should always schedule an annual eye exam with your local ophthalmologist. If you haven’t done so yet this year or it’s been a long time since your last visit, contact us today. Your eye health is in good hands with Dr. Omar Shakir this winter season and beyond. 

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