Winter and Your Eyes

While you probably think about protecting your fingers and ears from the cold during the winter, what many people don’t realize is that they also need to protect their eyes to prevent eye injury and irritation as well. The sun and its damaging rays are just as strong in the winter as they are in the summer, and whether people find themselves hitting the slopes or heading to work, they should practice caution when it comes to protecting their eyes. It is important that everyone protect their eyes and skin consistently to minimize damage, and following these easy steps will help keep your eyes safe during the winter months:

First, keeping the eyes moist will prevent irritation caused by hot, dry air from fires and heaters. This irritation can be very painful and annoying for those who normally suffer from chronic dry eye. Sitting farther away from heat sources and using artificial tear drops or humidifiers will help prevent this issue.

Everyone should wear sunglasses with UV protection even during the winter months. The sun can damage eyes in many ways during the winter including reflected UV rays off of snowy surfaces. Everyone should wear sunglasses and a hat or visor to block out 99% of UV light in particularly bright conditions.

In addition to wearing sunglasses, wear sunscreen, just as you would in the summer. Applying sunscreen to the surfaces of the body that will be exposed to the sun will prevent painful sunburns and skin irritation from UV rays. Typical surfaces that are exposed to the sun long-term during the winter include the face, nose, ears, and neck.

While active outdoors, people should wear goggles to prevent debris such as bark, slush, and ice from irritating the eye. Skiing and hiking are two activities where debris can come in contact with eyes. Goggles should be purchased that fully encapsulate the eyes, give enough room for a proper fit, and provide UV protection from the sun.

Helmets are also recommended for winter slope sports such as skiing and snowboarding. While snow may seem softer than rock and concrete, falling on snow can cause severe damage to the head and brain. Trees also typically line the ski slopes, a collision with a tree while not wearing a helmet may be a deadly incident.

If anyone experiences any eye irritation, dry eye symptoms, or vision loss, they should seek treatment immediately by making an appointment with their ophthalmologist.

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