The cold, dry winter season can be harsh on the eyes for everyone. Once the winter months are here, especially in our Colorado climate, we experience increasingly low temperatures, intensified UV rays from sunlight reflecting off of snow and ice, harsh winds, and dryness due to a lack of humidity – both indoors and outdoors. These factors often affect the eyes, making them dry or uncomfortable. It is important to care for and protect your eyes against cold winter temperatures and weather conditions. This can be especially important for those who wear contact lenses.
Following are some tips and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, in order to help you protect your eyes against all of the factors that the cold winter can bring.
Here at the Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs, your eye health and comfort is our number one priority. Our eye care professionals specialize in contact lens exams and contact lens fittings, and we want you to remain comfortable in your lenses throughout all seasons!
Winter’s Effects on the Eyes
Eyes require moisture, obtained through humidity, water intake, and natural or artificial tears, such as eye drops. Indoor and outdoor dryness in the air due to the use of heaters and a lack of humidity in the air outdoors, can make for dry, uncomfortable eyes – especially for those who wear contact lenses. Effect
Winter Eye Protection Tips
Eye care professionals recommend drinking more water during winter months in order to compensate for the moisture taken out of the air and lowered humidity. In addition, there are supplements that can increase tear film, such as DHA and multivitamins. Artificial tear eye drops or eye lubricants can be used as well, and under correct doctor recommendations for your eyes, prove effective in treating dry eyes and eye irritation. Those who do or do not wear contacts can follow these steps in order to produce more natural tears and eye moisture naturally.
Contact lenses are worn by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Contacts are worn for various reasons: as an alternative to glasses, to correct vision issues, and for cosmetic purposes. In the winter, we see patients who often ask how to best protect their eyes against dryness, burning, redness, and irritation that come along with winter weather conditions.
Can Contacts Freeze?
It is technically never too cold outside to wear contact lenses. Contacts do not regularly freeze on the eye without exposure to extremely low temperatures. Through blinking, your eye naturally produces tears that are warm and lubricating to the eye, which prevents freezing.
A study was completed for military individuals who can be subject to extremely cold conditions for a lengthy amount of time. Essentially, this study proved that in order for a contact to freeze or stick to one’s eye, the temperature would need to be close to –90 degrees in order to freeze upon a person’s eye.
UV Protection – Prescription Eyeglasses, Sunglasses, and Goggles
Protection from the rays of sunlight throughout the winter is extremely important. Much like a cloudy day when one might get sun burnt unexpectedly, a cloudy winter day can be deceiving! Just because the sky appears cloudy and dark during the day, the sun produces ultraviolet (UV) rays that are often more harsh than in the summer months. The strong winter UV rays can harm the eyes for anyone, whether they wear contact lenses or not, as the sun reflects heavily off of snow and ice.
One recommendation to protect your eyes from UV rays is to wear protective sunglasses. Having UV protection on your prescription eyeglass lenses is an important factor to consider when purchasing prescription sunglasses, as well as eyeglasses. In fact, prescription sunglasses tend to offer better protection than regular sunglass lenses.
For those involved in winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding, the Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs uniquely offers custom prescription sports goggles.
The goggles and outdoor glasses we provide will give you and your eyes optimum comfort for winter activities, and will prevent glare and UV rays from damaging your eyes.
Eye Moisture and Natural Tears
Tear film is what moisturizes the eye, and the act of blinking produces tears. Therefore, blinking and moving your eyes around is not only recommended, but also essential to increase the amount of moisture in your eyes.
As a contact lens user, it is important to keep on hand at all times a high quality lens re-wetting drop. Our staff is trained extensively in this area, and will be happy to recommend the best drop for your eyes.
Blinking and moving your eyes while working at a computer, looking at an electronic device, watching television, reading a book, or concentrating on anything closely should produce enough tear film to make your eyes feel comfortable.
After following these tips, if you feel as though your eyes are still not producing enough tears, it is recommended that you consult one of our Eye Care Center professionals in order to properly diagnose and treat the issue.
Dry Eye Syndrome and Excessive Eye Dryness
Dry, burning, watery, red eyes are common to the Colorado climate in the winter, if not year-round. Dry Eye Syndrome is a common affliction our doctors see in patients. Also known as Ocular Surface Disease, this condition is often ignored and left untreated. We see many cases of dry eye – no matter what the season or weather – but winter seems to aggravate symptoms more than most seasons.
The Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs pays special attention to the severity of this syndrome, and we offer multiple, effective treatments to manage and relieve chronic dry eyes. Prescription eye drops, plugs, and simple therapies are among some of our most effective treatments in order to care for Dry Eye Syndrome.
Even if your eyes are dry only during winter months, not uncommon due to the winter climate, it is still effective to use some of these treatments to relieve symptoms of mild to severe dry eye that occurs seasonally.
If you are experiencing discomfort in the winter months while wearing contacts, we recommend following all of the tips above. If your eyes are giving you discomfort, or if you have any questions at all regarding protecting your eyes in the winter months, feel free to give us a call in order to book an appointment with our exceptional staff of optometrists at the Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs.