With winter fast approaching, are you anticipating a full season of red, watery, itchy, and otherwise irritated eyes? It doesn't have to be that way if you can determine which winter elements are creating your winter woes and what you might be able to do about them.
The Outdoor Cold
Plunging outdoor temperatures may leave your eyes watering, increasing the redness and irritation. Although this is a normal reaction for most people, if you find your eyes watering excessively, you could have a tear duct problem exacerbating the situation. Wear goggles on the windiest of wintery days and if you're a fan of cosmetics, be careful with the application of your favorite makeup, as the more your eyes water, the more the chemicals from the cosmetics can add to your eye irritation.
That Indoor Heat
Try turning the thermostat down if your eyes feel irritated when you come in from the cold, as dry winter heat tends to leave most people with less natural lubricant in their eyes. You could put on a sweater and an extra pair of socks if you feel too chilly, or if you must keep the heat high, ask your optometrist about special eye-drops that serve as a substitute for that natural lubrication that evaporates in the indoor heat. You might also benefit from having a humidifier in your most commonly used rooms.
The Outdoor Blare
Even if the sun isn't shining, the snow and ice can overwhelm your eyes with a constant glare. Don't pack your sunglasses away with your swimwear and flip-flops; instead, keep them handy and wear them whenever you go out. The sun's UVA waves come right through the winter cloud cover and especially when they accentuate the winter glare, your eyes have to work double-duty. Snow blindness or photokeratitis is a real and painful condition that can develop when your eyes get too much light, particularly reflective light. If your eyes are always red, burning and feel as if there's something in them during the winter months, you may need stronger sunglasses, and to wear them more often.
That Indoor Dimness
Winter means a different aura of natural lighting indoors, and that can make doing things like reading or working on your laptop a little harder on your eyes. Especially if your eyes are in constant use throughout the day, you could develop eye fatigue frequently during the season. While normally a short-term problem, constant eye fatigue may lead to more serious eyestrain, so it's important that you compensate indoors for the lack of natural light. Also, if possible, limit your screen time during the winter, to give your weary eyes a break.
If you're finding it impossible to control eye irritation in winter, it's important that you talk to an eye doctor. Even though winter has an eventual end, all that wear-and-tear on your eyes isn't good, nor should you have to put up with the chronic symptoms. Additionally, there could be something else going on with your eye health, such as Uveitis, an inflammation of the inner-eye components, or corneal disease, which may produce the same symptoms as ordinary winter eye irritation (redness, itchiness, discomfort, and excess watering). No matter what, though, your vision is too important to take chances with, and if there's a remedy for your sore winter eyes, an optometrist will help you find it.
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