Top tips for healthy winter eyes
The last season of the year brings with it darker, colder days and nights but amid the whirl of the ‘holiday season’ many people aren’t aware of the effect that winter can have on our eyes.
While people often think more about staying warm than taking care of their eyes during the winter months, our sight is our most precious sense and we must protect it from the harsh effects of winter.
Here are some of the ways that winter can affect your vision and our Clinical Service Manager Graham Freeman’s top tips for warding off winter eye health problems - just as Jack Frost starts to bite.
Dry, watery eyes
Colder winds and temperatures, and subsequent increased central heating, can affect the health of the surface of the eye which can lead to dry, watery or sore eyes. The treatment for this depends on the cause but quick remedies include:
Use artificial tears
Heat and massage your eyelids
Lower the heating in rooms where possible
Try not to sit close to heat sources
Time spent indoors
Cold, wet weather often leads to people spending more time inside using digital devices, watching television or reading. To avoid your eyes getting sore, make sure you take regular breaks and use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 metres away for 20 seconds. This helps relax your eyes and keeps your eyes comfortable. Getting outside into the fresh air and natural daylight also helps your general health and can help to relax your eyes.
With the sun sitting lower in the sky and the appearance of rain, snow and ice, our eyes suffer more from glare and reflections.
Whether you’re driving, cycling or walking, we recommend wearing sunglasses with full UV protection to block harmful UVA and UVB rays or adding spectacle lenses that change colour in the sun to reduce the symptoms of glare.
Lots of people are under the impression that the sun isn’t strong during the winter months, so they don’t take UV exposure into consideration. The sun is just as strong in the winter, so always carry sunglasses as well as a hat and gloves to avoid long-term damage – UV rays can damage the front of the eye, the lens inside and the retina.
Driving in winter
Long, dark winter nights mean more bright car headlights which make it had for many to see clearly and can further affect light sensitive eyes. If this is the case, it would be useful to explore getting a ‘night driving’ spectacle lens coating added to your lenses to help you cope with glare that comes from headlights.
Banish tired eyes
Many people feel tired and sluggish during winter. This is due to lack of sunlight which disrupts our sleep and waking cycles. Try to get a good night's sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. De-stress with exercise or meditation.
Eat for your heart and your eyes
Foods that help circulation are good for your heart, eyes and vision. Choose healthy foods like citrus fruits, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as whole grains. Foods rich in zinc such as beans, peas, peanuts, lean proteins and poultry can help eyes resist light damage.
For more advise on how to protect your eyes during the winter months, visit your local Black & Lizars practice.