Protecting your eyes over winter should become an essential part of your daily routine. Not only will this protection help you feel less drained or irritated over the course of winter, but it can pay huge dividends for your eye health much later in life.
Let’s look at why protecting your eyes over winter is so important, as well as some steps we can take to maintain our eye health.
Don’t Forget About the Sunshine
Something that most of us forget (quite reasonably) is that sunburn is very common in winter! Did you know that snow can reflect up to 80% of the harmful UV radiation from sunlight back into our eyes? If you’re walking in the snow, or skiing or snowboarding, make sure to wear appropriate eye protection like goggles or UV-absorbing sunglasses.
Winter Eye Conditions
There are certain conditions which only show themselves during winter, or which are exacerbated by the cold or dry conditions. The most common such conditions is dry eye syndrome.
This condition can affect people throughout the year (especially if you’re prone to seasonal allergies like hay fever) but its influence is enhanced by the cold weather. Cold and wind can whip a good deal of moisture from your eyes, and it’s this lack of lubrication on the eye which causes:
- Itchy, sore and reddened eyes.
- A burning sensation under the eyelid.
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open.
Simple steps like drinking more water, and maintaining a fluid-rich diet (such as fresh soups or fruit) can give extra lubrication to the eyes, as a preventative measure. If you are symptomatic, then eye drops and warm compresses can often provide the relief you need.
Learn more about dry eye.
Preventative Eye Care in Winter
It’s fortunate that there are treatment options in place for conditions like dry eye, but in winter it is imperative that we exercise preventative eye care and try to avoid any eye problems at all. These are steps we can take to protect our eyes all year round, but are even more important in winter.
- Keep your eyes moist. Dryness can lead to irritation and pain in the eyes, and possibly even time off work if you can’t concentrate. Try installing a humidifier to counteract them and bring a healthy amount of moisture to your eyes.
- Blink regularly. Did you know that your cornea (the front part of the eye) can actually freeze if exposed to prolonged sub-zero temperatures? We often fight the urge to blink in a cold wind, but embrace it: take a few steps with your eyes closed if you have to!
Take regular breaks away from digital screens. Eyestrain isn’t a problem unique to winter, but if your eyes are already struggling from the cold and dry air, you can bet that they’re going to be more easily strained than usual. Try the 20:20:20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away for more than 20 seconds, and give your eyes a break.