Here in Canada, we all know the effect winter can have on our bodies. That's why we take precautions to bundle up in warm jackets, boots, scarves and mittens before heading out to enjoy our winter wonderland.
Unfortunately, many people don't realize that winter can be equally hard on our eyes, particularly in terms of UV rays bouncing off snow and ice, and the effects of cold, dry air. Many Canadians are impacted by photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness, a condition that can result in sore eyes and blurred vision. With that in mind, here are four simple ways you can protect your eyes this winter.
1) Wear Sunglasses with UV Protection
Most people think that sunglasses are something you only really need to wear in the summer, but that's simply not the case. Even on a cloudy day, ultraviolet rays are present, bouncing off of snow and ice in the winter. Over time, these UV rays can seriously damage your eyes. A pair of quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection can ensure your eyes are free from harmful ultraviolet radiation and help to reduce the risk of snow blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration.
2) Keep Your Eyes Moist
Cold, dry air and harsh winds often cause your eyes to become dry and irritated during the winter. Many people also experience dry eyes when they come inside to warm up and stand close to a heat source, such as a fire, space heater, or air vents in their car. Ask your optometrist about artificial tear drops or other treatment options to help keep your eyes moist during the winter months. You should also stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and having a humidifier in your home.
3) Wear Goggles When Enjoying Winter Sports
Whether you're a fan of skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or other types of winter activities, it's important to make sure your eyes are protected at all times. An accident can happen without any warning, resulting in eye damage and even permanent blindness. Be sure to get a pair of sturdy, impact-resistant goggles that also have built-in UV protection before you hit the slopes or trails.
4) Wear Sunscreen Under Your Eyes
Like sunglasses, most people think that sunscreen is something you only need to use during the summer months. People also often don’t consider the risk of UV damage to their eyelids. Invest in good quality cosmetics for the eyes that contain SPF. Dab a little under your eyes to reduce exposure to harmful UV rays. Be sure not to get any sunscreen or cosmetics in your eyes.
Winters in Canada can be long, but that doesn't mean we can't get outside and enjoy them. So the next time you bundle up, remember to take a few simple precautions to take care of your eyes and see Canada's winter wonderland in the best possible way.
For a complete eye exam and more tips on how to protect your eyes this winter, book an appointment with an FYidoctors optometrist near you.