Eye Safety for Winter Months

Female skier

When the weather is warm, and the sun is beaming, most of us know to protect our eyes by wearing sunglasses. What you might not realize is that it’s equally important to protect your eyes in the winter, too.

Many eye health afflictions can arise during the cold weather months, including dry, itchy, or watery eyes. If you engage in winter sports or spend time outdoors, the glare caused by snowfall can negatively impact your eye health.

Keep reading to learn more about protecting your eyes from potential damage during the winter months and how to manage symptoms.

Winter dry eye

Due to seasonal changes during the winter, many people experience discomfort from dry eyes. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available. However, it might be necessary to use a combination of the following options to see the best results:

  • To restore moisture to your eyes, use artificial tears or an eye ointment at bedtime. You can purchase ointment over-the-counter and apply it to your lower lash line.
  • Warm compresses can soothe irritated eyes. Soak a washcloth in warm water and apply it to your eyes for 10 minutes to reduce discomfort.
  • Use an indoor humidifier to restore moisture to the air. It is essential to keep humidifiers clean since they attract mold and bacteria.

Stop itchy winter eyes

Many of the conditions and symptoms that cause dry eyes can also result in itchy eyes. If you wear contacts, your eyes might feel gritty or stuck. In addition to using lubricating eye drops and ointments, there are other measures you can take to reduce the discomfort of itchy eyes.

  • Stay hydrated! It’s imperative year-round to make sure you drink plenty of water. This is even more important during the winter months since the drop in temperature decreases humidity indoors and outdoors.
  • Eat foods that are rich in Omega-3s, which promote the production of healthy, lubricating tears. Check out our infographic for more information on healthy eating for your eyes.

Protect watery eyes from the cold

Our eyes naturally produce tears not only to keep them lubricated but also to wash away irritants. In other words, tears protect your eyes from your environment, including the cold winter temperatures. This causes some people to produce an abundance of tears, leading to watery, uncomfortable eyes in the winter.

  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes from the cold winter weather
  • Wear sunglasses to help reduce the irritation that leads to watery eyes

Reduce snow glare

When snow first falls, it can feel like you’re living in a winter wonderland. But, the harsh glare can cause significant damage to your eyes. Snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays, which increases the risk of UV radiation.

  • Wear sunglasses or goggles that absorb 95% or more of UV rays
  • If you wear glasses, consider investing in photochromic lenses. These lenses darken automatically in the sunlight and block 100% of UV rays
  • Wear a hat with a brim to protect your eyes from the sun
  • If you participate in winter sports, make sure to wear polycarbonate lenses to protect your eyes from damage in case of accidents

If you want to know more about protecting and preserving your eye health, schedule an appointment with your eye care provider. Please note, if you use the treatments and preventive methods mentioned above and your symptoms don’t improve, contact your eye care professional immediately.


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