How Does Cold Weather Affect Your Eyes?

Dr. Jim Martin 01/08/2018

Winter is here, bringing cold temperatures and harsh winds. But what does that mean for your eye health?

Many people are aware that their lips dry out in cold weather but don't know that their eyes can also become quite dry. Protecting your eyes is critical for keeping them healthy during the entire season.

These are the biggest effects cold weather can have on your eyes.

Prolonged Cold Exposure Risks

When you're outside in below freezing temperatures, it is easy for your eyes to become irritated. Cold wind often leaves eyes feeling unpleasant, which can lead to inflammation, making eyes become red, watery and itchy.

Prolonged eye exposure to cold temperatures can also lead to eye pain, blurred or reduced vision, loss of vision, double vision, and severe light sensitivity.

Outdoor Eye Protection

If you enjoy outdoor winter sports, make sure to protect your eyes any time you'll be outside for extended periods of time. Wearing sunglasses or goggles shields your eyes from both the cold and wind as well as the sun. Fresh snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV light that hits it, which is significantly higher than the 15% reflection that takes place on a sandy beach.

As cold, windy weather tends to make eyes drier, you may also benefit from using a natural eye drop solution following a skiing or snowboarding session.

Dry Eye Danger

For many people, the combination of below freezing temperatures and high UV light exposure can be particularly damaging. The outermost layer of the eye's lipid film protects the corneal epithelium against tear evaporation. When this layer's temperature starts to drop, the film's oily components make it shrink and become more stiff, greatly reducing the film's lubricant properties. The lower the temperature, the more severe the changes.

If you routinely experience dry eye, try using a gel or natural eye drop before going to sleep to improve your tear quality. Preservative-free eye solutions are safe for people who wear contact lenses and/or take other eye medication.

Finally, people are more susceptible to eye infections during the winter. Varying viruses and bacteria in the air can come in contact with your eyes when you touch them with your hands, towels, or tissues. To minimize the spread of infection, take care to wash your hands before touching your eyes.

Broome Optical is committed to offering high quality eye care for the entire family. From fitting children with glasses to helping adults choose contact lenses, we cater to all of your optical needs. To learn more about our products and services, call us today.

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