Winters can be difficult for many reasons. In addition to staying warm and hydrated, there are many ways to keep your eyes protected during the colder months, which will make your winter much more enjoyable. There are more hazards to your eyes than one might think during this time of year.
Experienced ophthalmologist Dr. Raul A. Peña shares seven top tips for taking care of your eyes during the winter. Come in for a consultation at our practice in Harlingen, TX, and we can answer any other questions you might have about protecting your vision.
1. Keep Your Eyes Moisturized
With cold weather comes lower temperatures and dryer air. This dryness causes our eyes to dry out, leaving them red, irritated, and vulnerable to infection. There are a number of thing you can do to can keep your eyes lubricated during winter, such as:
- Blinking More Often: Blinking creates tears, which lubricate your eyes to keep them protected and hydrated.
- Wearing Protective Goggles: This is particularly important on windy days or for winter sports where you are moving fast. Blasts of cold air can really dehydrate your eyes quickly, so wearing goggles that stop wind can make a huge difference.
- Avoid Wiping Your Eyes: This causes inflammation and redness, and with dry eyes you are prone to infections. All it takes is one unlucky scratch of the eye to get infected.
2. Protect Against Snow Blindness
We tend to think of sunglasses for summer weather, but they are also crucial in the winter, if not more so. A fresh, white blanket of snow is certainly pretty, but also dangerous for eyes.
UV rays from sunlight bounce off of snow into your retinas, causing damage over time. Protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses, and make sure they are rated to block 100% of UV rays.
3. Lower the Indoor Temperature
If you hate the cold, or just love feeling warm and cozy, chances are you crank up the heat in winter. While certainly comfortable for some, it dries out eyes. If you are having trouble with dry eyes indoors, consider keeping your thermostat a little colder than you usually do.
4. Get a Humidifier
The constant warm or hot air recirculating in our homes further dries out the air. Use a humidifier to reverse this and keep your home humid enough to keep your eyes from feeling itchy and red.
5. Use Artificial Tears
Lubricate your eyes with eye drops for dry eyes. There are many types of such eye drops, so we recommend discussing your situation with the team at our Harlingen eye center so we can make a recommendation. For severe or chronic dry eye, prescription eye drops may be needed.
6. Limit Use of Electronic Devices
While staying inside to keep cozy and warm, we tend to use our devices more often. Constantly looking at the bright light from tablets, phones, computers, or TVs can lead to less frequent blinking, contributing to eye strain and dry eye.
Consider cutting down on your device use. Some suggestions include finding a screenless hobby, using dedicated apps to monitor your electronics usage, or just reading a good old-fashioned book.
We also recommend using a warm light filter on your devices. The usual blue light from screens harms your eyes, and it also keeps you up longer at night.
7. Stay Hydrated and Eat Right
Keeping your body hydrated will keep your eyes from drying out. When we are dehydrated, we lose the ability to produce tears as easily. Staying hydrated throughout the day also benefits your overall health, so you can look at it as a win-win situation.
Along those lines, eating healthy plays a huge role in your eye function. Studies have shown that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids prevent macular degeneration. A balanced diet provides the proper vitamins and nutrients your body needs for great eyesight and health.
Join Us for a Consultation
Another great way to take care of your eyes is by seeing your ophthalmologist. Come in for an exam at our Harlingen practice for top-quality eye care. Give us a call at (956) 661-8733 or send us a message online to schedule an appointment today.