6 Ways to Protect Your Eyes this Winter
You probably know that you should protect your eyes during the summer, but did you know that you should protect your eyes during the winter too?
Cold, dry air and bright sunlight in Raleigh, NC can damage your eyes and affect your eyesight.
This winter, protect your eyes with these easy tips from Dr. Jeffrey Handschumacher & Dr. Cara Finn.
1. Wear UV-A or UV-B Sunglasses, Even On Cloudy Winter Days
Harmful high-energy ultraviolet (UV) rays can penetrate through clouds, even on the shortest, cloudiest days of winter. Furthermore, the light reflecting off snow can be significantly brighter than the light reflected by water. In fact, snow reflects about 80 percent of the light that hits it, while water reflects only up to 65 percent of sunlight.
At its worst, sun glare from snow can actually burn unprotected eyes to cause snow blindness, a painful condition that results in sensitivity to light. Exposure to sun glare can also make it feel like you have sand in your eyes. The symptoms of snow blindness can last up to a week.
2. Wear a Hat
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep UV rays off your face and out of your eyes.
3. Wear Eye Protection
Eye injuries happen in the winter too. Protect your eyes from injury while shoveling snow, putting up seasonal decorations on your house, or doing winter yard work.
4. Keep Eyes Moist with Eye Drops
Dry outdoor air, heat from a furnace or fire, wind, and circulating indoor air can evaporate your tears to cause dry, itchy eyes. This can be particularly uncomfortable if you already suffer from dry eye, a chronic condition in which your body doesn’t produce enough natural tears to lubricate your eyes. Use artificial tears or other eye drops to keep your eyes moist. Deflect air blowing from furnace vents; use a humidifier to put moisture into room air.
5. Practice good hygiene
Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is more common in the winter. Like a cold, pinkeye is a contagious disease that spreads a virus or bacteria from person to person. The condition spreads through contact, so places like elevator buttons and doorknobs can harbor the bacteria or virus. Conjunctivitis can even spread from one of your eyes to the other.
To protect your eyes from the increased risk of pinkeye in the winter, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes. If you do develop pinkeye, make an appointment with your eye doctor for treatment of conjunctivitis.
6. Visit your optometrist
Protect your eyes by making an appointment with an optometrist, who can test your vision, diagnose vision problems, provide treatment for some eye conditions, and manage vision changes. Your optometrist can diagnose winter-related eye problems such as dry and conjunctivitis, for example, and provide treatment for many eye conditions associated with winter. Your optometrist can also perform preventive screening that detects vision problems early, while eye diseases are most responsive to treatment.
For more information on protecting your eyes during the cold season, consult with Dr. Jeffrey Handschumacher or Dr. Cara Finn, who can prescribe eye drops that treat dry eye, and recommend sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from harm this winter. Happy Holidays from all of us at Family Eyecare Center!