As the cold weather sets in many of us notice its impact on our physical comfort. Our hands and feet get cold, our skin gets dry and our eyes may tear more. In fact, the cold weather can cause several different eye conditions including dry eye and vision changes. It’s important to protect the eyes in the winter weather and get proper treatment if vision changes become permanent. Here are three ways in which cold winter weather can affect your vision.
1: Excessive tearing: The wind and cold winter air can make some people’s eyes tear excessively. This can cause blurry vision. If the excessive tearing is the result of being in the wind, you can do the following:
- Wipe your eyes carefully with a clean cloth or tissue.
- When outside protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. Wear goggles when participating in winter sports
2: Dry eye: The internal and external air tends to be much drier in the winter. When external temperatures are very cold there can be less moisture in the air. Internal heating systems can dry out the air inside offices and homes. This can be challenging for the eyes because they need moisture. When there isn’t enough, dry eye can occur. There are other causes for dry eye as well, but in the winter months, the dry winter air can be a contributing factor.
Here are some of the treatments for dry eye:
- Artificial tears: Over-the-counter eye drops can add moisture to the eye and reduce the discomfort of dry eye. Ask your ophthalmologist for a recommendation about the best brand to use.
- Humidifiers: You can add moisture to the air in your home to counteract the drying effect of the heating system by using a humidifier.
- Protect your eyes: Wear sunglasses when going outside and goggles when participating in winter sports. This will keep cold air and particles from the wind out of your eyes.
- Drink enough fluids: Staying hydrated will help your eyes produce the tears they need to counteract dry eye.
- See a specialist: Sometimes dry eye is a chronic condition that causes blurry vision,dry itchy eyes, excess tearing and other symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms for an extended period, see a specialist for treatment.
3: Vision changes: The cold winter weather and blustery winds can cause some people to experience vision changes. They can be caused by dry eye, red and swollen eyes, and/or excessive tearing. If the vision changes are temporary, there are things you can do to prevent them. However, if vision changes do not resolve themselves or you experience eye pain or extreme burning, consult with your eye care provider immediately.
To avoid temporary winter vision changes:
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection
- Wear goggles with UV protection during winter sports
- Close your eyes in the winter wind
- Use eye drops on your ophthalmologist’s recommendation
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and avoid blurry vision
It’s important to protect your eyes in the winter, just like you protect your skin. It helps to avoid temporary eye conditions during cold weather.
While some suffer temporary vision changes, other live with low vision every day. We work with many patients who suffer with long term low vision. Our mission is to provide them with the advanced technology and medical devices they need to fully function and participate in activities of daily life without the obstacles that vision impairment can create. If you or a loved one have been told that nothing more can be done to enhance your vision, see us. Every day we work with patients who have been told that and every day we successfully enhance their vision. Read more about what technology can do through incredible advances like IrisVision and Sunu Band.