Caring for your Eyes in Cold Weather

You might not think about your eyes needing some extra care in the colder winter months as compared to summer weather. However, indoor heat, low humidity, brisk winds and cold temperatures can take a toll on our eyes. Luckily, there are some things you can do to protect your eyes from the cold weather this winter.  

Protection from UV Exposure

Outdoor sports and activities expose eyes to ultraviolet (UV) light even in the winter. You can protect your eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses and hats outdoors, especially when driving. If you wear glasses, a reflective coating on your lenses helps protect your eyes. 

Snowboarding, skiing and other outdoor winter activities mean your eyes get exposed to UV rays as well. Fresh snow intensely reflects light and almost doubles a person’s UV exposure, according to WHO. Recurring incidences of snow blindness (called photokeratitis) in skiers demonstrate the importance of protecting your eyes from the ground reflection of UV rays. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles while skiing and snowboarding. 

Colorado’s high-altitude means you’re at increased risk of sun damage. The higher you go, the thinner the atmosphere gets. When the atmosphere thins, it’s less effective in filtering UV rays. This is one more reason for protecting your eyes (and your skin) from UV rays, even during the winter. 

Add Moisture

Dry, cold air outside and central heat inside causes our eyes to dry out. It can especially be problematic if you already suffer from dry eyes. Use a humidifier to boost your indoor humidity levels. The added moisture helps your eyes (and your skin). Turning down the heat a few degrees can help as well. You can also use artificial tears to add more moisture to your eyes. An easy personal reminder is to place one drop in each eye at breakfast and dinner times.

Remember to Blink

As we spend more time indoors and on screens, blinking can help dry winter eyes. Dr. Donald Korb, a pioneer in dry eye research, recommends a series of  blink exercises for every hour spent on the screens and computers. Simply open your eyes for 2 seconds, close them gently but fully for two seconds and squeeze them shut for 2 seconds. Repeat this 10 times per hour spent on the computer.

Winter and Contact Lenswear

For contact lens wearers, the dry indoor heat and cold outdoor wind can dry out contacts and irritate your eyes. An irritated eye surface can cause itchy, scratchy and dry eyes, and can even make your vision fluctuate, according to an American Optometric Association article. Using humidifiers at home and moisturizing eye drops can help. You can even use a portable humidifier in your car to help make contact lens wear more comfortable. Direct heating vents away from your eyes as well, especially while you’re driving. 

Hydration through Diet

Drinking plenty of water helps maintain your body’s hydration, and it also helps your eyes. Eyes also benefit from eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and oysters, or taking fish oil supplements. Consuming omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation in the eye, especially in the tear ducts, which helps create healthy tears to hydrate your eyes. 

Please contact us if your eyes are irritating you this winter so we can help.