Winter eye care – How can I protect my eyes during winter?

Photo credit: adwriter from Flickr

Photo credit: adwriter from Flickr

Got dry eyes?

We are now in the heart of winter, which means I have seen a number of patients come in with complaints associated with the season.  A common complaint? Dry eyes.  With cold weather comes increased use of heating systems both in our houses and cars. While the  warm air certainly feels great, the heat and decreased humidity dry your skin and eyes.  This is particularly true for my contact lens patients. An easy way to stay comfortable is to keep artificial tears handy and to point vents away from your face.  Also, a humidifier can come in very handy for both your eyes and other sensitive tissues like the inside of your nose.

Playing in the snow?

Photo credit: LaRimdaME from Flickr

Photo credit: LaRimdaME from Flickr

I also had a couple patients tell me they were going on a winter sports trip in the mountains. While playing in the snow is definitely fun, it can be unhealthy for your eyes.  Ultraviolet light is even more powerful when reflected off of snow and with increased altitude.  Too much exposure to ultraviolet light can cause a condition called photokeratitis.  Unfortunately, I had a mild case of this after building a snow fort as a child.  While the fort turned out great, my eyes did not.  My eyes stung and my vision was blurry for about a day.  Some people suffer much worse, so it is very important to use UV-protecting sun glasses when hitting the slopes.

Interestingly, a new coating for your glasses has been invented that eliminates fogging.  So, if you find yourself going from hot to cold environments quickly for work or play, or eating a hot bowl of soup on a cold day, you may want to ask your doctor about this new technology. As you can see with a few simple steps, your eyes can be healthier and better protected in winter. So get out there, stay protected and have a great time!

~David C. Ardaya, OD
California Optometric Association
http://www.coavision.oeg