The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and certain parts of the country have already seen their first snowfall. As these signs of winter become more and more frequent and the new season finally rolls around, people will start reaching into their closets to bundle up anytime they need to go outside. Hats, scarves, mittens, and heavy winter coats are classic choices for winter weather, but these accessories leave one critical area unprotected: the eyes. There are a number of factors that can cause irritation or damage to the eyes during the winter months, so take a look at this list of ways you can protect your eyes this winter.
Keep Your Eyes Moist
Turning up the heat in your home or sitting by the fire will keep you warm when it gets cold outside, but it will also lead to dryness and irritation in your eyes. This will particularly affect sufferers of chronic dry eye, a condition that prevents the body from properly producing tears. Try to keep your exposure to a minimum by sitting or standing farther from heat sources, and use artificial tears and/or a humidifier to soothe dryness.
Wear UV Sunglasses and Goggles
Just because temperatures have dropped doesn’t mean your eyes aren’t susceptible to sun damage during the winter. In fact, snow reflects 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, so you could be at risk from UV rays striking your eyes from every angle. The effects are amplified at higher altitudes, so activities like skiing, snowboarding, or hiking during the winter come with additional risk. Protect yourself by wearing sunglasses that reflect 99 to 100% of UV light for whenever you go outside.
Also, during the winter, there are opportunities for slush, ice, and other debris to get into the eye during outdoor activities. Although sunglasses will provide some defense against foreign objects like these, wear goggles for optimal protection.
Try to Limit Your Screen Time
Spending snow days inside watching movies or browsing the web can be fun, but too much of it can be harmful to your eyes. Staring at screens that are close to your face can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated, so make sure you take regular breaks from the computer or TV.
Avoid Touching Your Eyes
You may want to rub your eyes if they become dry or irritated, but this may only aggravate your condition. Additionally, touching your eyes may allow the bacteria on your hands to get into your eyes, which can lead to infection. Refrain from touching your eyes, and use eyedrops or wash them to relieve any irritation.