Scarves, gloves and down-filled coats help protect us from the snowy, chilly weather - but what are we doing to protect our eyes? Here are three helpful tips to keep you and your family’s eyes happy and healthy throughout the winter season.
Wear your sunglasses - Most people believe that it’s most important to wear sunglasses in the summer, but in fact, our eyes are exposed to the same amount of UV-A and UV-B rays throughout the winter. Overexposure to UV rays has been linked to a variety of problems, including damage to the cornea, cataracts and degeneration of the retina. These conditions can cause blurred vision, irritation, redness, tearing, temporary vision loss and, in some instances, blindness. Your eyelids are also highly susceptible to skin cancer without proper sun protection. To help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, select quality sunglasses that are marked with a ‘100 per cent UV-A/UV-B’ protected sticker. If sunglasses are not marked, ask your optometrist to verify they meet these requirements.
Wear goggles when playing outdoor sports - If you enjoy winter sports such as skiing or snowshoeing, make sure you wear a quality pair of goggles that protect your eyes from debris, sunlight and even enhance your vision to match the outdoor conditions. Excessive wind exposure can cause the white part of the eye to become irritated leading to permanent yellow discoloration (pinguecula). When buying goggles, look for polarized lenses that reduce glare and that fit tight to your face. If you normally wear prescription eyewear, talk to your optometrist about fitting your goggles with prescription lenses.
Ward off dry eye - We all know dry winters can take a toll on our skin, but did you also know they can impact our eyes? The cold air naturally holds less humidity, which can impact our ability to produce enough quality tears to distribute moisture over our eyes, which can lead to the development of dry eye. Although dry eye may start as a mild discomfort, it is important to seek treatment before permanent damage occurs. Symptoms range from excessively watery eyes and sharp intermittent pain, to blurry vision and the desire to close your eyes for relief. If you suffer from dry eyes, it is important to use a humidifier in your house and make sure the vents in your car do not blow directly at your face. Dry eye can be effectively managed and treated with a simple visit to your optometrist.
Dr. Larisia Hladun is an optometrist at IRIS – West Market Square in Calgary. To book an appointment with an optometrist near you, visit www.optometrists.ab.ca/find-an-optometrist.
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