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November 17, 2014

How Winter Affects Eyesight

It’s that time of year again, holiday decorations, snowmen and Christmas trees. Although it is a great time for making memories, it is important to remember that during these cold and overcast winter months, eye care still very important.

Don’t let the phrase “wet season” fool you, dry eyes is a very common complaint during winter. Not only does dry air and the wind outside cause dryness, but the increased use of artificial heat is also a factor. Artificial heat lowers humidity levels; so if you’re inside trying to keep warm, dryness can cause itchy, burning, watery eyes. Those of you who wear contact lenses may be especially prone to dry eyes during winter and untreated dry eyes can cause blurred vision or even damage to the cornea. Fortunately, there are simple precautions you can take to keep your eyes moistened like using lubricating eye drops or humidifiers, particularly if you wear contact lenses. Blinking is actually another helpful way to keep eyes moist. Even if you don’t wear prescription lenses, glasses offer great protection from wind, so consider purchasing a non prescription pair of glasses.

Another concern during the winter months, especially for you skiers and snowboarders, is overexposure to UV light that reflects off ice and snow. This causes an inflammation of the cornea called photokeratitis, which is like a sunburn on the eyes. Photokeratitis may heal with time, but too much exposure to UV light could eventually lead to cataracts or macular degeneration. Sunglasses will help protect your eyes against harmful UV light. With new snow reflecting up to 100% of the UV light, it means double the dose of sun, so you’ll need glasses with a minimum UV 400 protection. Just because you’re shoveling snow or taking a walk doesn’t mean you can do without sunglasses.

Just because winter weather brings dreary, cloudy days, eye care is still very important and there is no reason to disregard the same precautions you would normally take during the summer months. For advice on taking additional precautions during winter, give us a call at 877-871-1684 to schedule an appointment with an eye care specialist.

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