Winter is here, and most of us have already stashed away our sunglasses and sunscreen, planning to only take them out when summer rolls around. Little do we know that winter can wreak just as much havoc on the unprotected eyes as a sunny day. Although the intensity of UVB rays are at their peak during midsummer, UVA rays remain comparatively high throughout the year, making your eyes and skin vulnerable to sun exposure not only in summers but also winter.
In fact, around 80% of UV rays are reflected on to the snow, which means there is an increased risk of UV rays exposure (both from the sky and the ground). Whether you are hitting the hills, heading to work or having a nice cozy time near the fireplace, it is important to take notice of your surroundings. Instead of taking healthy vision for granted, take precautions.
Protect Your Eyes
- Remember those sunglasses you put away? Take them out again. If you can, invest in wraparound goggles or sunglasses with polarized lenses and a foam liner, which will allow your eyes to relax by absorbing the glare and preventing fatigue. Look for sunglasses that come with information about SPF or promise 100% UVA/UVB protection. Choose yellow, amber or brown tints, which improve clarity, contrast and depth perception.
- Keep your eyes moisturized at all times. Air or heat circulation from a heater or fire can result in irritation and drying of the eyes, which is not only painful but annoying, especially if you have dry eyes, a condition where the eye ceases to produce a proper supply of tears. In that case, avoid all types of heat sources and use a humidifier or artificial tears to prevent dryness. You can also keep near you a spray bottle of filtered water and spray the content in your eyes whenever necessary.
- Seek as much shade as possible. If you commute by your car, install tinted windows that will block the UVA rays. Avoid sitting by the window in public transportation and seek shade with an umbrella
- Avoid going outdoors during times when the sun is at its peak, between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- Keep eye drops handy
- Eat nutritious foods. Although cold weather calls for comfort foods like hot chocolate and coffee, snacking healthily is important to keep your vision and overall health in excellent shape. A good idea is to take multivitamins daily and eat a diet rich in antioxidants (including dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, carrots and fruits).
If you have a pre-existent condition, it is a good idea to see your optometrist before the winter season and comprehensively discuss the steps and medications that you need to take to ensure the health of your eyes. If you think your eyes may have suffered sun or debris damage, contact your doctor ASAP.