3 Ways to Keep Your Eyes Healthy This Winter
When the nights draw in, Halloween and Bonfire Night have been and gone and the shops are filled with Christmas merchandise, you know winter is fast approaching – and along with it the colder temperatures, wind, rain and maybe even snow. Constantly moving between warm, dry indoor environments and the harsh weather conditions outdoors can take their toll on the health of your eyes, leaving them dry, red, itchy and stinging. Here are three ways to keep them healthy this season.
Protect Your Eyes
Windy conditions both dry eyes out by whipping away the natural moisture as well as flinging grit and dust into them. Wearing spectacles or sunglasses can help shield your eyes from these problems but they won’t necessarily do enough – if you are active outdoors, invest in some good quality goggles to stop mud, dust, snow etc from getting into your eyes. Look for ones that either have UV protection built in or allow room for sunglasses underneath for those rare sunny or snowy days.
Snow is especially hard on eyes. Because it is so white, snow reflects the majority of the UV (ultraviolet) rays emitted by the sun back up from the ground, meaning that you are exposed to UV rays from above and below. This can cause a painful condition known as photokeratitis, or snow blindness, where the cornea becomes inflamed. It does not have to be particularly sunny to cause irritation and vision problems, UV rays still reach the ground when skies are cloudy too, so look for sunglasses which block 100% of UV rays, not just in front of your eyes but all around them as well.
If you are heading off on a winter holiday for snowsports or climbing, proper sports goggles are essential to protect your eyes from injury by flying ice or debris. Also remember that UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes, so those goggles also need to have 100% UV protection.
Moisturise Your Eyes
Many people experience dry eyes in winter. Being exposed outdoors in cold dry air or strong winds will reduce the levels of moisture in the eyes but so will spending long periods of time in heated dry rooms. Always avoid rubbing your eyes, make sure you rest them, especially if working at screens for long periods and stay well hydrated, as this will keep the natural moisture levels around your eyes balanced.
Minor levels of dryness and irritation can be relieved by using artificial tear drops, keeping a distance from dry heat sources such as radiators and using humidifiers to moisten the air. If unsure about using eye drops, you need further advice or have recurrent problems with dry eyes causing you discomfort, then speak to your optician.
Watch Your Screen Time
Long dark winter nights have many of us cosying up at home and automatically turning to TV, computer or mobile screens for entertainment. However, too much time spent looking at screens can cause dryness, fatigue and irritation in our eyes, especially when combined with sitting in dry heated rooms.
Your eyes need regular rest away from screens, so practise the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something around 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Many people already spend their working days looking at computer screens so think about doing other activities away from blue light screens to allow your eyes to have a different focus and rest properly.
It’s also tempting some days, when the weather is foul, to entertain children with their favourite films or computer games. Try to monitor and limit children’s screen time as their eyesight is still developing. Research suggests that too much screen time could contribute towards childhood vision problems.
If you have any questions about your eyes or would like to book an eye test with one of our experts, get in touch with Sergeant & Barber Opticians today. Call now on 01502 568241.