Your shorts and flip flops may be hibernating in the back of your closet until spring, but don’t be tempted to toss your sunglasses in with your summer items. With the colder temperatures and arid conditions, eye protection is more important than ever. Here are some common conditions that can affect your eyes in the winter:
Dry eye is a common condition that can be exacerbated by dry winter air. Dry eye is caused by decreased tears, which are necessary for the normal lubrication of eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies. Furnaces and heating systems can have an equally drying effect on your eyes as the cold air outdoors. Try using a humidifier in your office or home to add moisture back into the air. This will help your eyes feel more lubricated and comfortable.
If you wear contact lenses, you may notice that your contacts feel drier during the winter months. You may want to consider wearing your glasses a few extra hours each day. Using artificial tears can be helpful. If you continue to experience dryness, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist to help determine the cause of your chronic dry eye.
If you ever wondered whether it was possible to get a sunburn on your eyes, Anderson Cooper answered that question in 2012. The CNN news anchor spent two hours on a boat in Portugal without sunglasses and suffered corneal burns that caused temporary blindness for three days. Photokeratitis usually does not cause permanent damage, but it is painful. According to Cooper, the condition felt like his “eyeballs were on fire” (Source: USA Today).
To prevent sun damage to your eyes, make it a habit to wear sunglasses whenever you are outside. Even though the winter sun may not feel as piercing and severe as the summer’s rays, the UV rays can still damage your eyes and skin, especially when reflecting off of the snow. Choose eye protection that blocks 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, and apply sunscreen to your face each day for maximum protection.
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and part of the eyeball. The most common symptoms are redness and itchiness in one or both eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, tearing, and a discharge that forms a crust during sleep. Some types of pink eye are extremely contagious, so be especially diligent to wash your hands thoroughly and often during the winter season. This will not only prevent pink eye but all other communicable illnesses (Source: Vision Source).