Top Winter Eye Health Tips
The harsh weather that British Winters bring us may present new issues for your eyes. One of the most common problems people face is dry eyes, which can be caused by a number of things such as cold temperatures, harsh winds and central heating. Follow our top tips for keeping your eyes healthy and protected as the weather gets colder and the daylight hours get shorter.
Driving in Winter
Driving in Winter may present new challenges. As it becomes darker earlier on, you will find that any journeys in the early morning or the early evening will be in darkness, making it harder to see. The glare of the sun on icy roads can also make it more difficult to drive.
Ensure your headlights are fully functioning and your windscreen is clean. If you’re taking long journeys, remember to take regular breaks to give your eyes the chance to rest. It may also be helpful to carry sunglasses in your car to help reduce the glare of the roads.
Decreased light levels
Winter lighting can make every day activities such as reading the newspaper more difficult, putting strain on the eyes.
Make sure you’re giving yourself extra, direct lighting for tasks like reading.
Dry eyes and central heating
Cranking up your central heating is the answer to the cold temperatures of Winter. However, if you already suffer from dry eyes, central heating can worsen this.
There are some simple steps you can follow to minimise these symptoms:
- Lower the temperature of your central heating if possible. Instead, layer up and use a hot water bottle to combat the cold.
- Sit away from direct heat sources such as gas or electric fires.
- Try to increase your blinking rate.
- Visit your local GP, optician or pharmacist for advice on eyedrops to lubricate your eyes.
- Ensure you’re getting some fresh air.
- Use a humidifier when your central heating is on to regulate moisture in the air.
Assessment by an Ophthalmologist is generally advised if you are suffering from severe dry eyes for prolonged periods of time.
When outside during Winter, harsh winds and the colder weather can often cause your eyes to become watery.
If you wear glasses, make sure you’re wearing these when outside to protect your eyes, or wear your sunglasses.
Increased screen time
As the days are cut short due to it becoming darker earlier, you may find that over the Winter period you spend more time indoors. You may also find you spend more time watching television and browsing the internet during your evenings. This expected increased screen time leads to less blinking, which may also contribute to drier eyes and itchiness.
Remember to take regular breaks and focus your eyes elsewhere regularly; try the 20:20:20 rule. Every 20 minutes, give yourself a 20 second break your screen exposure to focus on something else at least 20 feet away from you. Additionally, keep an eye on your blinking and make sure you’re blinking often.
The Winter sun
Sunglasses can be just as useful in the Winter as they are on your summer holiday. Snow and ice are reflective and UV rays are reflected off the ground into your eyes. UV exposure puts you at risk of long term damage as the sunlight can cause damage to the retina and the lens of the eyes.
Make sure you’re wearing high quality sunglasses to protect your eyes when outside in the snow and ice. Remember you can also get prescription sunglasses which are handy if you already wear glasses.
With outdoor Winter sports around the corner, it’s important to remember the risks this can have on your eyesight. High wind speeds can dry out your eyes and unprotected eyes are susceptible to dirt and UV ray damage.
Be sure to invest in a pair of goggles that provide your eyes with full coverage, as well as having UV protection as a safeguard from the Winter sun.
Dry eyes in the Winter can cause a whole host of problems.
Combat dry eyes by keeping yourself properly hydrated to retain moisture in your eyes. The NHS Eatwell Guide suggests you should drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day.
Eye hygiene is not only important in Winter, it’s a must all year round.
Make sure you’re washing your face, particularly the areas surrounding your eyes. And as tempting as it is, avoid rubbing dry, itchy eyes. You don’t want to risk any bacteria from your hands entering your eyes and making the problem worse.
If you’re having any issues with your eyesight, don’t take any chances, particularly when it comes to driving.