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Winter Eye Care Tips

December 15 2023

Winter is officially upon us … and so is that cold, dry air. The cold weather can definitely cause eye irritation and dryness. You’ll want to give your peepers a bit of extra care at this time of year. A local Marysville, WA optometrist offers some advice on this below.

Does Winter Air Cause Eye Problems?

Those with allergies may have bigger bones to pick with spring and fall, when pollen counts can cause those with sensitive eyes quite miserable. However, winter can also be tough on your peepers. Seasonal discomforts include burning sensation, dry eyes, redness, itching, and light sensitivity. You may also have that uncomfortable feeling of having grit or dust in your eye. Some will notice increased mucus, or perhaps a few extra visits from the Sandman.

What Do I Do For My Dry Eyes In Winter?

The go-to here is the eye drop, or artificial tear. These step in when the eye doesn’t produce the moisture it needs naturally. This often happens naturally, but in winter, that lower humidity tends to make this a pretty common issue. This is similar to what happens when you run out of windshield wiper fluid in your car: dust and debris will soon build up on your windshield.

While choosing eye drops may not be the biggest health care decision you make this month, it is something to put a bit of thought into. If you haven’t seen your eye doctor in a while, it’s best to get an exam before choosing eye drops. Some of these are formulated to help with specific issues, so it’s important to get the right kind. Otherwise, you may end up making matters worse.

Keep in mind that ongoing, stubborn dryness may be a sign of a deeper issue. Reach out to your Marysville, WA optometry clinic if this issue persists.

Windshield Care

Speaking of windshields and washer fluid, make sure that you are good to go. Good windshield wipers and a filled tank of fluid can make all the difference when it comes to good visibility. Because we drive more at night in winter, those who don’t see well at night may really struggle, especially when it’s wet or slippery. Play it safe, and keep that windshield clean. This will reduce glare, increase visibility, and, perhaps most importantly, reduce the chances of an accident.

Keep Your Hands Clean

Winter is cold and flu season. Even a mild case of sniffles can make your eyes feel dry and inflamed. Many of those viruses that are going around can permeate the thin mucous membranes in your eyes. Washing your hands regularly can reduce the chances of you picking up your uncle’s cold, which is definitely not what you want on your holiday wish list.

Never Share Makeup

New Year’s Eve may very well be the number one party night of the  year. Many people go all-out to look their best as they are waving adios to 2023 and saying hello to 2024. By all means, feel free to share your new favorite makeup tutorial. However, you should never share makeup itself.

Another fashion don’t? Cheap colored or costume contacts. If you want to spruce up your look by changing your eye color, do it the right way and go through a licensed eye care center. You only get one set of eyes, so you definitely want to take every precaution to keep them healthy.

Don’t Forget The Sunglasses

If we only had one year-round eye care tip to offer, this would be it. It may not be hot out, but the sun can still damage your eyes. In fact, winter is more dangerous than summer in some ways. The glare off of snow can add an extra punch to natural sunlight, reflecting those damaging UV rays.

Invest in a few high-quality pairs of sunglasses, and keep at least one in your car at all times. This is one area where you want to go for function over fashion. There’s nothing wrong with getting some really nice shades, but don’t fall for products that look nice but don’t deliver the protection your eyes need. Those silly party glasses people wear on New Year’s Eve are great for photo opps, but don’t count on them for much actual protection. 

Headed for the ski slopes? Don’t skimp on goggles! 

Eat Right For Good Eyesight

Your diet affects nearly every system in your body, as well as every aspect of your overall health. Your eyes are no exception. In a nutshell, you’ll want to opt for lots of brightly colored foods. Orange, red, and yellow veggies, such as peppers, carrots, and pumpkin, are often loaded with beta-carotene. Blue and purple fruits and berries are often packed with antioxidants. Leafy greens also pack a great nutritional punch. Fatty fish, such as salmon, offer healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which can also help combat that dry eye discomfort we mentioned above.

That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in those holiday treats. Just don’t go crazy! 

Make 2024 A Year For Seeing Clearly

As we wind down 2023, many people are looking ahead to 2024, and setting personal goals for the coming year. Put your eyes on the top of that list!

Here are a few things you can do to protect your eyes and vision in the coming  year:

  • Schedule Your Annual Exam: If you haven’t had your eyes checked in a while, put this one at the top of your to-do list. One thing it’s important to realize about eye care is that many serious problems go ignored until symptoms become severe … At which point, treatment options may already be limited.
  • Put Safety First: Whenever doing anything with tools, paints, or other potentially-harmful substances, always err on the side of caution. Wear safety goggles when needed, and avoid risky behaviors.
  • Watch For Warning Signs: Many eye problems start subtly. You may notice floaters one day, and then not see any for a while. Or, you may have eye pain randomly, but not often enough to think it’s serious. It’s best to play it safe, and contact your Marysville, WA optometrist as soon as you notice anything amiss.

Get A Dehumidifier

If the air in your place is really dry, it may be in your best interests to get a dehumidifier. That alone can go a long way toward providing relief for dry, itchy eyes.

Go Easy On Irritants

Scented candles, wax burners, cracking fires, and potpourri pots can all make your home look and smell great. However, they can also dry the air out and/or add irritants. If you have sensitive eyes, keep these products to a dull roar.

Stay Hydrated

This is another year-round trip. At this time of year, though, it goes double for anyone who is traveling … especially to those who are flying over the holidays. That dry plane air can suck the moisture out of your body … including your eyes. Drink plenty of water before flights.

Our Advice on Winter Eye Care Tips in 2024

Are there any specific eye conditions or diseases that are more likely to develop or worsen during the winter months?

During the winter months, certain eye conditions can develop or worsen due to the cold, dry air. Dry eye syndrome is particularly prevalent, as lower humidity levels indoors and outdoors lead to increased tear evaporation. Conditions like uveitis may flare up during colder periods due to changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature. Additionally, the limited daylight in winter can exacerbate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), impacting visual clarity and eye comfort. It’s important for individuals to monitor their eye health closely and seek professional advice if symptoms persist or worsen.

How can individuals who wear contact lenses protect their eyes from dryness and irritation during the winter?

Individuals who wear contact lenses can protect their eyes from dryness and irritation during winter by ensuring adequate hydration, both systemically by drinking plenty of water and locally using lubricating eye drops approved for use with contacts. Opting for daily disposable lenses can also help, as they are less likely to accumulate irritants. Wearing glasses on particularly dry or windy days provides an additional protective barrier. Furthermore, maintaining a humid environment indoors can alleviate dryness. Regular eye exams are crucial to adapt eye care practices as needed during colder months.

Can the use of humidifiers in the home or office help alleviate dry eye symptoms?

Yes, using humidifiers in the home or office can significantly alleviate symptoms of dry eye by increasing the moisture level in the air. Dry indoor environments, particularly common in winter when heating systems are in use, can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. A humidifier helps maintain a more optimal humidity level, reducing the evaporation of tears and keeping the eyes more comfortable. It is beneficial to place humidifiers in areas where you spend significant time, such as near workstations or in living areas, to maximize eye comfort.

Are there any specific nutrients or supplements that can help maintain eye health during the winter months?

During the winter months, specific nutrients and supplements can support eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements and fatty fish like salmon, help combat dry eye symptoms by improving tear production. Vitamin A, essential for maintaining healthy vision, can be sourced from carrots and sweet potatoes. Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, present in leafy greens and eggs, protect against cellular damage. Additionally, Vitamin C and E, found in citrus fruits and nuts, contribute to overall eye health by supporting vascular and cellular health in the eyes.

How can people protect their eyes from the reflective glare off snow and ice?

To protect eyes from the reflective glare off snow and ice, wearing sunglasses with polarized lenses is crucial. Polarized lenses significantly reduce glare by blocking horizontal light waves that bounce off reflective surfaces. Additionally, ensuring that sunglasses offer 100% UV protection is important to guard against harmful ultraviolet rays, which can be more intense during winter due to the reflective properties of snow and ice. For activities like skiing or snowboarding, wearing UV-protective goggles that fit well and cover more surface area can provide enhanced protection.

All of us here at Grandview Optometry, your Marysville, WA optometry clinic, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about your eye health, eye care, or eye wear.

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