How to Care for Winter Eye Problems

Do you have a love-hate relationship with winter? If so, don’t let it your “winter blues” affect your vision too. Here are four common winter eye problems to watch for and avoid, if possible.

1. Dry eye and general irritation

You probably already know that cold winter air is typically drier than the air during warmer seasons, but don’t overlook how this dryness might be impacting your eyes. Adding insult to injury, is the dryness of the air we heat indoors in an attempt to keep ourselves warm. Here are a few ways to protect your eyes:

 - Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

 - Make omega 3 oils part of your diet

 - Use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep

Dry cold air and blistering winds might also inflame the areas in and around your eyes. Relieve the tenderness by applying a cold, wet cloth, or towel to the affected area. If this doesn’t help, then a seasonal allergy may be responsible for the irritation. or visit your eye doctor for consultation. 

2. Excessive tearing

Winter conditions sometimes have the opposite effect of dry eye—watery eyes and excessive tear production. To compensate for the drying effect of cold air and wind, your eyes will sometimes overproduce tears to protect themselves and maintain the proper moisture level. But if this causes discomfort or difficulty seeing while you are outside, then try wearing protective glasses or goggles to prevent exposure to the elements. 

If you find that your eyes are watering up when you are indoors, then again, you may have a seasonal allergy and its best to speak with your eye doctor about your symptoms. 

3. Sensitivity to light

While many days during winter are filled with thick cloud cover and darkness, snow- and ice-covered areas reflect much more light than you might expect. This brightness leads to light sensitivities for many people. If your eyes experience discomfort, twitching, or you find yourself blinking more often, then protect your eyes with polarized, UV-graded sunglasses. 

4. Sunburn

Believe it or not, it’s also possible to receive a sunburn on your eyes. Reflected sunlight from snow and ice increases your chances of getting a sunburn on non-protected areas of your body. If your eyes experience an increase in light sensitivity, irritation, or pain following an extended period outside, especially at higher elevations, then you may have a sunburn. See your eye doctor for treatment of symptoms and to prevent long term damage. Cumulative UV damage to your eyes can cause corneal damage and macular degeneration, so be sure to always wear protective goggles and glasses, especially during winter sports. 

Keeping your eyes seeing their best may help you enjoy winter the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed, with clear vision, snowball fights, hot chocolate, indoor family time, or a book by the fire.

One more way to enjoy great vision any time of the year is to save on eye exams, glasses, and contacts with VSP Individual Vision Plans coverage. If you don’t have vision insurance, learn how you can benefit from vision insurance and enroll in a vision plan today.


Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

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