August 11, 2020

How to Look After Your Eyes in Winter


Read the full NZ Herald article here

Take it from an ophthalmologist, eye health is important, even though it’s easy to forget about. People tend to think more about their vision during summer, but winter can also pose some risks for your eye health. Do you know how to keep your eyes safe from the cold? To find out more, read on!

Keep your eyes from drying out

The colder it gets, the more the air tends to dry out your eyes. Therefore, we often find ourselves tearing up more through winter; it’s the body’s natural response to the season’s plummeting temperatures. To protect our eyes from getting too cold, our bodies produce tears. This can be an issue when you’re spending a lot of time outside or if you run a heater while indoors, as heaters tend to dry the air out as well.

For most, the body’s natural tearing response will be enough, but some people may also need to consider eye drops. Conditions such as dry eye can be triggered by the drop in air-humidity through winter, so it’s worth talking to your doctor if cold winds are irritating your eyes to the point where they can’t flush themselves out.

In extreme conditions, you may also want to think about using a humidifier to maintain a more comfortable humidity level in your home. In very cold areas of the country where snow falls regularly, sunglasses or goggles might be necessary to keep the air from drying out your eyes. Such eye protection serves a dual purpose; it can also protect your eyes from the UV light reflected off the snow.

Avoid too much UV exposure

Winter exposure to UV light is such a major factor in eye health that it’s worth giving it its own section in this guide! UV light in winter is just as strong as it is in summer, even though it’s easy to forget, as we typically associate UV rays more with sunburn, heat, and skin health.

Because we’re much more likely to enjoy winter sports like snowboarding or skiing during winter, the risks of absorbing UV light without intending to are quite pronounced. UV light reflects very easily off snow and ice, and thus can quite directly damage the eye, leading to photokeratitis, or ‘snow blindness’. 

UV light exposure is also known to increase the chances of developing cataracts earlier, leading to permanent loss of vision. Ski goggles are easily the best way to avoid this, as most are designed to filter out UV light entirely. For those who aren’t planning on hitting the slopes but still expect to see some local snowfall, it’s best to use a pair of sunglasses instead.

Be mindful of digital eye strain

Winter is the perfect time to get cosy indoors, and it’s common to spend leisure time watching a movie or new Netflix series. But all that extra time watching television or using the computer can add up and, if we’re not careful, lead to serious eye strain. Extended screen-time with no breaks can lead to bloodshot eyes, and excessive strain can lead to more serious issues later.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to combat the pitfalls of eye strain. Just be sure to take relatively regular breaks. Try to look outside or focus on something further away. Varying the distance of objects that you’re focusing on for a while can keep the eyes from getting strained by focusing on one thing for too long.

Worried about your sight?

If you’ve experienced discomfort or pain, you may need vision correction. To find out more about your vision, feel free to book a consult and we can help you catch any vision problems early. As a leading Auckland eye specialist, our equipment and testing are cutting edge. Talk to us today. We’ll be happy to help!

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