As the temperature drops and winter approaches, it’s important to pay attention to how the climate affects your eyes. While cold weather can cause eye irritation, dryness, redness, and photokeratitis, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes during these colder months. Let’s explore how cold weather affects your eyes and what preventative measures you can take.
Blog Body: Causes of Eye Irritation in Cold Weather
The most common cause of eye irritation in cold weather is due to a decrease in humidity levels and exposure to windy conditions. When the air is colder and drier, tears evaporate faster from the surface of your eyes which can leave them feeling dry and gritty. This problem can be exacerbated by spending more time indoors, as indoor allergens will trigger eye symptoms such as redness or itchiness.
Another potential risk during winter months is photokeratitis. This condition occurs when UV rays cause corneal damage due to intense light exposure without proper protection—such as skiing or snowboarding without wearing sunglasses or goggles—and can lead to painful eyes with increased sensitivity to light. In some cases, those affected may experience temporary vision loss or blurred vision that could last up to 48 hours after exposure.
Fortunately, there are several preventative measures you can take in order to protect your eyes during cold weather:
• Wear sunglasses or goggles on days when you’ll be exposed to sunlight reflecting off snow or ice
• Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon and flaxseed oil to help reduce inflammation caused by allergies
• Use artificial tears if needed (these are available over the counter)
• Keep an air humidifier running while indoors—especially at night when humidity levels drop even further
• Talk with an optometrist if symptoms persist despite following these prevention measures
Cold weather has a direct effect on our eyes but taking simple preventative measures can ensure that our vision stays healthy all season long. Wearing sunglasses outdoors will protect from UV damage while increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids, using artificial tears when necessary, maintaining humidity levels indoors, and speaking with an optometrist if needed will all help keep your eyes safe this winter season!
If are you struggling with dry eye or other eye issues because of the cold weather, Lentz Eye Care can help ease your discomfort. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
American Optometric Association: Winter is coming: Help Patients Combat Dry Eye, 12/14/17
American Academy of Ophthalmology: What is Photokeratitis — Including Snow Blindness?, 1/13/20
Harvard Health Publishing: How Can I Reduce Symptoms from My Winter Allergies?, 12/19