2019 Tips for Winter Eye Safety

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2019.

Just because the weather is colder during the winter does not mean people are safe from the potential dangers of sun exposure. The human eye is an incredibly complex and sensitive organ that can suffer various problems during the winter. Unfortunately, many people conflate cold weather with minimized risk of sun damage. Consider the following tips to protect your eyes this winter.

Prevent Snow-Blindness

If you have ever spent time outdoors in a white snowy landscape and then returned inside, you probably noticed you had trouble seeing once you entered a darker interior room after being outside for so long.  This phenomenon is “snow blindness,” which is essentially sunburn on your eyes. Sun exposure is dangerous any time of year, but during the winter, the sunlight reflecting off of snow can amplify this effect. This can especially be dangerous when driving, as a driver could miss a hazard. However, the symptoms typically are not noticeable until returning inside. The human eye is very adaptable and will adjust itself to compensate for the plethora of sunlight reflecting off snow, and your eyes will need time to readjust after returning indoors.

Sunglasses are a good choice even during the winter. A pair of UV-blocking sunglasses can help reduce glare during winter sports and protect the eyes from all of the UV rays reflecting off the snow. Additionally, winter sports goggles are ideal for skiing, snowboarding, and sledding as they not only eliminate glare, but also prevent eye irritation from kicked-up snow that may contain dust and dirt particles.

Fighting Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are more common in winter when humidity is generally lower. As the eye dries out, it can cause itchiness and irritation. People who wear contact lenses are especially vulnerable to eye dryness in winter weather. Additionally, the use of some heating appliances in the home or the heating system in a vehicle can cause the eyes to dry out even more. You can prevent dry eyes by staying hydrated and relying more on your vehicle’s seat warmers than the climate control system.

Good Winter Hygiene

Pinkeye or conjunctivitis is more common during the winter months, and you can prevent this uncomfortable and irritating condition by practicing good hygiene all winter long. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes. Conjunctivitis is extremely contagious, so doing your part to prevent the spread of pinkeye can help prevent your loved ones and friends from contracting this illness.

Consider Prescription Protective Eyewear

If you rely on glasses or contact lenses, it may be worth investing in a pair of prescription sunglasses or protective eyewear that matches your prescription. A person who needs to wear glasses may otherwise forego eye protection and suffer damage from intense UV rays because he or she cannot see well without his or her glasses. There is now a plethora of eyewear options available that may eliminate this concern, including transitional eyeglass lenses that darken when exposed to UV rays, or prescription sunglasses.

Visit Your Optometrist

Everyone should have regular vision screenings, and people who use glasses and contact lenses generally visit their optometrists at least once per year. During these visits, ask your doctor about his or her recommendations for winter eye protection that addresses your unique vision issues. Everyone’s eyes are different, so having a professional opinion about your eye health for the winter is a wise choice.

An optometrist can recommend optimal eye protection for a variety of winter activities or simply provide you with recommendations that will preserve the health of your eyes during cold weather. Ultimately, it comes down to personal responsibility to prevent eye damage during the winter, and taking appropriate precautions not only prevents eye injuries but also encourages better overall eye health.