Winter is a wonderful season for family fun and activities. Maybe you’re hitting the slopes, hiking through snow-capped peaks, or alternatively—staying indoors because snow really isn’t your thing! No matter how you choose to enjoy the winter, it's important to consider your eye care. Cold weather, dark nights, and excessive use of devices can be entertaining but can also put your vision at risk. The following eye safety tips will help both parents and children enjoy the season’s activities safely.
As much as the cold weather outside may make you want to stay in and watch movies, it’s best to limit looking at bright lights for extended periods of time. Blue light from screens can lead to eye strain and fatigue and potentially disrupt your ability to produce melatonin, a key factor in getting a good night’s sleep. Use an automated timer to help you remember to turn those lights off before bedtime.
If you’re planning on a winter road trip, don’t forget to pack your sunglasses or protective eyewear. Glaring snow and wet roads can form a challenging setting for our visual system. Water on asphalt roads can create a harsh, intensely reflective environment that can lead to driver fatigue and eye strain. Even on an overcast day, shades can help reduce strain caused by glare while driving.
Planning to build snowmen or spend time in the outdoors? Then you’ll need to wear sunglasses or snow goggles 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.
Between holiday shopping, travelling, and getting together with loved ones this season, you’ll want to make sure you get enough rest. Lack of sleep can be harmful to your vision health. The minimum amount of sleep your eyes need to properly rest is five hours. Without that break, these organs can’t work to their full potential. A main indicator is an eye spasm, which is an involuntary twitch in your eyelid officially termed myokymia. Adequate sleep rests the body and all your eye muscles.
Make sure to drink enough water between seasonal gatherings and busy days spent with family and friends. Dehydration can cause your eyes to become dry. Without enough water, your body will stop producing tears, which are needed to wash away foreign matter in the eye, nourish the eye, and help reduce the risk of eye infection. When the eyes stop producing tears, they are no longer lubricated properly and you are at risk of developing dry eye, eye strain, or vision problems. Try filling a large water bottle every morning to remind yourself and get a good start to the day.
Limit digital device use — even when cold winter nights don’t leave you much else to do. Exposure to smartphone screens can have an impact on our vision health. Digital devices emit "blue light," a naturally occurring wavelength of light. While blue light lets you see your smartphone screen clearly, it could also potentially cause eye fatigue over time. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes stare at something that's at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Discover other quick-and-easy winter eye protection tips on our blog. And make sure to stay on top of your vision correction needs by visiting one of our eye care specialists at your nearest FYidoctors location.