It’s easy to take your eyes for granted. While your vision is, of course, essential every day, your eyes themselves generally get ignored as they do their job. When they become dry and irritated, though, they become hard to ignore.
The winter months are full of challenging conditions for your eyes. Outside it’s cold, inside it’s warm, and the combination can add up to bigger problems than just fogged lenses. The team at IC Laser Eye Care in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey, offers these tips to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable this and every winter.
Sometimes Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. Step outside into a guessing game in the winter. Will your eyes tear up or dry out? Both reactions are common. Cold air has a tremendous capacity for absorbing moisture in certain conditions. A winter breeze can dry out the saline component of the normal tear layers that protect your eyes.
You may feel the dryness of this rapid evaporation, or your body may respond by overproducing tear saline. That’s only one of three layers of your tears, though, and overproduction there can destroy the careful balance that’s usually present. So, even when your eyes are wet with excess saline, they can actually be drying out.
Using artificial tears before you go outside adds a protective boost, particularly to the thin outer layer of tears, which protects against evaporation. Choose preservative-free formulas if you wear contact lenses.
Forced-air furnaces can make coming in from the cold a cozy experience overall, but they create a challenge for drying eyes. As the cold, outside air gets warmed by your furnace, its humidity content drops dramatically. It may be even worse in your car, as vents blow heated air across your face. Already dried from the cold air, your eyes can feel scratchy in record time from defrost settings.
Humidifiers may be the answer, both at home and on the go. You can add furnace or room humidifiers and even USB-powered desktop and car humidifiers. These can raise humidity to 50% and ease the effects of dryness on your eyes.
Guarding against sunburn from ultraviolet (UV) light exposure is common knowledge for a day at the beach. Those in the know add sunglasses that also filter UV rays to protect their vision. That need doesn’t vanish with the end of the summer, though. In fact, a sunny, snow-covered day can be just as hard on your eyes as a day on the beach. Photokeratitis, commonly called snow blindness, results from a UV overdose affecting the cornea.
Wear sunglasses with a UV protection rating and consider activity-appropriate hats and headgear that shades your eyes.
Other year-round best practices continue to help your eyes through the winter. Stay hydrated at all times, for more than just your eye health, and avoid touching your eyes unless you’ve just washed your hands.
When home care isn’t enough, contact IC Laser Eye Care at their most convenient location. You can reach your office of choice by phone or online to schedule an exam to get your eyes back on track. Book your consultation today.