It’s that time of year: leaves are falling off the trees, daylight quickly turns to darkness, a cold winter chill hangs in the air and you find yourself suffering from dry, itchy eyes. While it’s important to keep your eyes moist during the winter months, protecting your eyes from dryness and exposure to the chilly elements during extra-cold weather isn’t as easy at it may seem.
However, by following the five helpful tips discussed in this article, VSP Direct guarantees you’ll be dry-eye-free in no time, so you can get back to enjoying the finer things that winter has to offer.
Before we talk tips, it’s important to understand why winter weather can be so harsh on your eyes. Cold temperatures, dry outdoor air and dry indoor heat all cause the eye to dehydrate and this can lead to symptoms such as pain and swelling, blurred vision, a scratchy or burning sensation, and even teary eyes as your body tries to compensate for the dryness. Furthermore, individuals who spend ample time in snowy conditions are at even greater risk due to damage from sunlight reflected off the snow’s surface.
Without taking proper care of your eyes during the winter months, you become incredibly vulnerable to corneal infections that may permanently affect your vision. Take care of your eyes this winter with these five helpful tips:
If you’re outdoors on a cold, windy day, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the drying effects of the wind. If you plan to spend hours in the elements skiing, skating or shoveling snow, be sure you wear either sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light.
Exposure to UV light is increased in the winter due to the sun’s reflection on ice or snow. This reflection can cause inflammation of the cornea called keratitis that makes the eyes red, sore and sensitive to light.
Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to help your body fend off dry eyes. Water and other beneficial liquids are essential in keeping your organs functioning properly and rehydrating your eyes, so consider increasing your intake of liquids during winter months to prevent dehydration. If you’re an avid coffee or chai drinker, consider opting for green tea or chrysanthemum tea as they are more beneficial for the eyes and help to prevent eyestrain.
Using a warm, damp compress assists with tear secretion for common dry eyes. By simply applying a warm washcloth on each eye for two to three minutes per eye, you can help your eyes create the moisture they need. This tip also helps sooth scratchy, irritated and swollen eyes and can be one of the best ways to quickly treat the symptoms of dry eyes.
Using a humidifier is one of the best things you can do for dry eyes during the winter months. Bringing a humidifier into your home helps combat the dry indoor air that floods your home when you turn up the thermostat, and it can do wonders for dry, itchy eyes. When the air is too dry, your sinuses don’t function properly and this can cause congestion, sinusitis and irritated eyes. Be sure to run your humidifier during the night, when you’re eyes are most vulnerable to dry conditions.
Studies suggest that upping your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil can help protect your eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome. These acids help support proper drainage of intraocular fluids so your eyes are less likely to become dry and inflamed in the chilly winter weather.
The Institute of Medicine suggests that each day women need 91 ounces of water and men need about 125 ounces of water to stay hydrated. Experts agree that 20 percent of your daily water intake should come from the foods you eat. Soups, raw vegetables and fruits all have high amounts of natural water content and beverages like milk and 100% real fruit and vegetable juices are great for hydrating your eyes.
Suffering from dry, irritated, swollen, itchy eyes due to chilly winter weather can be frustrating and discouraging. If you continue to struggle with the symptoms of dry eyes, visit your eye doctor for an eye exam and professional consultation.
At VSP Direct, we offer vision plans that provide you with full-coverage, low-cost insurance, a vast network of experienced doctors, and reliable member assistance whenever you need it. Visit our Vision Hub for more information on vision care and apply for your plan today!