Protecting your eyes in cold weather

‘Tis the season… for eye problems

There is much to enjoy about the changing of the seasons, but as the weather turns colder your eyes can be exposed to harsh conditions. During the fall and winter months, many people suffer from eye health problems, such as dry eyes or eye inflammation. Read on below to learn more about these conditions and what you can do to prevent or alleviate them.

Dry air means dry eyes

Colder weather means that it’s time to turn on the heater. Unfortunately, this is what causes the most common fall and winter eye health complaint dryness, which often leads to excessive watering of the eyes. Dry eye symptoms such as burning and itching, or the sensation of foreign objects in the eye, are often brought on by the reduced humidity levels in our homes and workplaces due to heating. Exposure to cold windy conditions outside can further exacerbate these symptoms.

While dry eyes can affect everyone, people who wear contacts are especially prone to experiencing these symptoms in fall and winter. Peri- and post-menopausal women are also more likely to suffer from eye dryness due to the loss of estrogen. If left untreated, dry eyes can cause blurry vision and even damage to the cornea.

How can you help prevent dry eyes?

  • Keep your eyes moist. Stay hydrated with extra fluids and, if possible, use a hot- or cold-air humidifier to increase the humidity level in your home or office while you’re awake and your eyes are open.
  • Use eye drops. Artificial tears lubricate your eyes and increase comfort. They are available over the counter at most pharmacies as a simple saline solution or tear gel, and help the natural tear layer by keeping it from evaporating too rapidly.
  • Blink more often. When you are focused on complex visual tasks, such as working on a computer, your eyes tend to blink less frequently. This can make dryness worse, so it is important to try and remember to blink regularly whenever you feel your eyes are dry at work.
  • Wear glasses. Make sure to wear sunglasses during any time you spend outdoors. They will help protect your eyes from the drying effects of the cold wind.

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