Most of us are good about protecting our eyes from the summer glare. We keep a pair of sunglasses in our car and wear eye protection when we are doing outdoor activities. When fall and winter approach, it is a struggle to remember the importance of eye protection. The overcast skies and lack of sunshine fool us into thinking that our eyes do not need to be shielded from invisible UV rays. UV radiation can make your eyes more prone to degenerative eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, periocular skin cancer and macular degeneration.
In fact, eyes can be more at risk in the winter than in the summer. Here are a few things that you can do to keep your eyes protected and safe during the winter:
- Keep wearing those UV-A or UV-B protecting sunglasses – Light reflecting off of the snow can be even brighter than light reflected off of water. Regardless of how sunny or cloudy it is, wear sunglasses every day to prevent UV-ray exposure.
- Wear a hat – Maybe you don’t like having hat hair, but wearing a hat will keep your skin looking younger and your eyes protected by keeping UV rays off of your face. Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you are outdoors, especially for a long period of time. Remember that the sun does not have to be shining for UV rays to be harmful.
- Use sunscreen on your face and neck — Select a good, moisturizing sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30. Make sure to reapply according to package instructions.
- Wear proper eye protection when you are outside – Whether you are shoveling snow, doing yard work or hanging exterior holiday decorations, wear polycarbonate safety goggles to keep any foreign objects from penetrating your eyes and causing permanent damage.
- Keep eye drops handy – Your eyes may become dried out or irritated by cold, drying winds. Use moisturizing drops to keep them lubricated. Being indoors can also dry out your eyes as furnaces and heaters can remove moisture from the air.