Every season brings challenges for our eyes, and winter is no exception. The cold weather and harsh winds outside, colds and flu running rampant, drying central heating, and glare from the winter sun – winter can be torturous to the eyes, but many issues can be largely overcome with some simple tips.
For many of us, winter is the time to snuggle down and spend more time at home. It’s a time for boxset binges and movie marathons, baking and hot chocolate! But how many of us realise that winter can also cause eye health miseries?
Below, Sultan Dajani, the Community Pharmacist and adviser to Golden Eye® reveals what perils winter brings for our eyes and how Golden Eye® can help.
When the weather outside is cold, the air around us becomes drier. When this happens, the surface of the eye, which is mainly water, loses moisture due to evaporation. This can cause the eye to become dry and produce insufficient tears to keep the eyes moist.
It is important to keep our eyes and surroundings moist to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
Central heating can make already dry eyes feel worse. Don’t rub your eyes, as you risk making them sore and introducing bacteria, which can cause conjunctivitis, blepharitis or styes.
Try not to overheat rooms where possible; open windows each day, even if only for a few minutes. Consider buying some eye drops from the pharmacy that are designed specifically to relieve any eye health infections like styles or blepharitis.
“I recommend formulations containing propamidine isethionate because they are a disinfectant and also have antifungal properties, and here, Golden Eye® is the pharmacy choice. If you wear contact lenses, you could try wearing them a little less. Use a humidifier or leave a bowl of water near a radiator to help add moisture to the air.”
Sunglasses aren’t just for summer
Snow and ice are reflective, meaning the sun’s rays can reach you from below and above. UV rays are reflected off the surface of the snow, which can cause sunburn, called photokeratitis, of the eye. That’s why sunglasses can be just as important in the winter as in the summer.
Furthermore, the low sun in winter can be dazzling, so take special care, especially when driving, and pop on some sunglasses. If you wear glasses, ask about having an anti-reflective coating added to the lenses to help avoid glare, particularly when driving.
Light up your life
If you are working from home this winter, good lighting is also important. You will see better and experience less eye strain in bright light rather than in dim light. If you wear glasses, you may feel that you need them more when the lighting is poor.
Try to sit close to a window during the day if you need to see something clearly, like the text in a book or magazine, but try to avoid light glaring on your screen if you are working on a computer or laptop.
Use multiple light sources in a room to increase the amount of light without relying on a super bright overhead light, and consider warm light bulbs over cool blue-type bulbs to create a more natural feel. Use lamps with directed light for tasks like reading and writing.
It can be tempting to submerge ourselves in laptops, phones, and tablets when we spend more time indoors, but did you know this isn’t very healthy for your eyes? Staring at digital devices for long periods can cause headaches and tired or dry eyes.
Take regular breaks away from your screen by looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Eat your eyes to good health
As the saying goes, ‘You are what you eat’. That’s the case for your eyes, too. Your eyes are complex organs that need many different vitamins and nutrients to function properly.
Vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 are all important for eye health. Try to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats. And make sure you stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids.
Coughs and sneezes spread diseases
Colds and flu can affect our eyes, causing pain and soreness along with the temptation to rub them often. If you are unwell, always keep your hands clean after blowing your nose or coughing and try not to rub your eyes. It is especially important if you wear contact lenses.
Going out? Make-up mistakes
Going out? Does your make-up need a spring clean? Make-up brushes need cleaning regularly, and pay attention to the use-by dates on your eye products. Also, try not to share your make-up.
Sharing your products and brushes may seem like a lovely thing to do with your friends, but no matter how clean you or your friends are, your make-up and brushes may well be harbouring thousands of tiny bugs and germs. Once these get into your eyes, they can cause infections like conjunctivitis, blepharitis and styes, putting a huge dampener on your social spirits.
Daily eyecare routine
Regular eyelid hygiene is incredibly important, but how many of us can honestly say that we pay it any attention? You should bathe your eyelids daily and apply gentle pressure with a flannel soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes. It softens the skin and any crusts attached to the eyelids.
Keep re-warming the flannel in hot water if it cools. Follow this by massaging your eyelids. With your eyes closed, gently press on the inner corners of your eyes to release any mucus-like fluid from the tiny glands there. Good eye hygiene can help to prevent infections from setting in.
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