Winter Eye Health
By Advanced Vision Care – Nashville, Eye Doctors serving patients from Nashville, IL; Pinckneyville, IL; Okawville, IL; Carlyle, IL; Centralia, IL; Mt. Vernon, IL; and surrounding areas.
As the temperatures drop during the winter in Southern Illinois, you may experience increased problems with dry eyes or inflamed eyes. These are common complaints, but there are steps you can take to help prevent and treat these conditions.
Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
When snowy or icy weather conditions set in, make sure you keep your sunglasses on hand. Although the sun’s rays are hotter during the summer months, they can be just as damaging (if not more) during the winter season.
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun will reflect off of snow or ice on the ground at a rate of almost 100 percent. This means that you end up getting a double dose of UV light, both from above and below. If this light comes into contact with your eyes, it can cause a condition called keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea. Keratitis can make your eyes feel more sensitive to light and cause soreness and visible redness in your eyes. Studies have also found that excessive exposure to UV light can contribute to the formation of cataracts.
To shield your eyes from damaging UV rays in the winter, look for sunglasses with a minimum of UV 400 protection. These sunglasses should block both UVB and UVA light. Wear your sunglasses when the sun is shining and on bright overcast days.
Hydration From the Inside Out
Dry eyes are the most common complaint from our patients during the winter months. If you continually experience an itchy or burning sensation in your eyes, you may be suffering from seasonal dry eyes.
When the heat from your HVAC system kicks on inside, the humidity levels will drop significantly. This will create very dry air inside your home and office. People who wear contact lenses, peri-menopausal women, and post-menopausal women may be especially sensitive to this dryness and will experience even more eye discomfort during the winter. If the issue is not properly addressed, dry eyes can lead to corneal damage or increasingly blurred vision.
To combat the dry air both inside and outside during the winter, try to develop these habits:
- Drink extra fluids. Aim for 60-80 ounces of water every day.
- Keep air humidifiers in your main living areas and bedrooms of your home, as well as in your office space.
- Blink more frequently to encourage your natural tear production.
- Use lubricating eye drops when you feel any discomfort from dryness.
- Talk to your eye doctor about a high quality dry eye supplement, such as ZeaVision EyePromise® EZ Tears™
- Wear protective glasses when outdoors. Guard your eyes against cold winter wind with sunglasses during the day or clear safety glasses if you are outside at night.
Winter Eye Health for the Whole Family
Since eye damage from the sun or from excessive dryness can be cumulative, make sure every member of your family practices good eye health habits. Encourage kids and adults alike to wear protective sunglasses or goggles when they are outside, and make a conscious effort to keep everyone properly hydrated.