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How to Protect Your Eyes During Winter

How to Protect Your Eyes During Winter

Winter can be a magical time of year and western North Carolina. Homes and businesses are decorated for the holiday season, with lights and ornaments that remind you of simpler times. Temperatures can remain relatively mild; however, most residents expect to see at least a few snowflakes each winter. While we only receive about a foot of snow each year, it is more than many other southern cities and often plenty to go sledding or in which to build a snowman. 

As pleasant as the season can be, the cold months can also be difficult on your eyes.

Many western North Carolina residents struggle with seasonal dry eye irritation, and there are other winter hazards each year. In this article, we want to help residents of our area protect their eyes throughout winter, so they can enjoy the best parts of the season.

What You Need to Know About Winter and Your Eyes

Dry air can contribute to dry eyes

Dew Points are lower in the colder months in the Asheville area. In winter, especially February and March, the average relative humidity drops to the lowest of the year in the Asheville area. That means that your eyes will encounter dry air, so if you already have dry eyes, it can be a painful and uncomfortable season. The air temperature and humidity outside can combine with drier air indoors to really put the hurt on Asheville area eyes. 

Dry eyes develop as a result of insufficient tears. Many residents of the Asheville area benefit from using a humidifier indoors; however, your trusted eye doctor may be able to recommend and supply you with drops that will help improve eye moisture. However, before using any sort of artificial tears, make sure you contact your optometrist. 

Snowfall and sunlight

When snow does fall, it can be beautiful and serene. However, when the sun shines on that snow it can seem blinding. That is because the sun reflects the light in a manner that can hurt your eyes. When the snow melts enough to drive, or if you are out playing in it, make sure you wear protective eye gear such as sunglasses to mitigate the effects of the sun’s bright rays. 

Increased screen time 

Increasing your time indoors can lead to more screen time than usual. This year especially, more people than ever are working from home on small laptop screens. Meanwhile, you are likely to watch more television and play more video games when you are stuck inside due to the cold weather. These factors combined with the lower angle of the sun in the sky and poor indoor lighting can lead to strain that will dry out your eyes and can potentially lead to vision issues. Here are some tips for mitigating the effects of increased screen time and poor lighting:

  • Invest in better and more eye-friendly lighting in your workspaces.
  • Sit in the places where natural light is available during the day.
  • Go outside as frequently as possible during the winter, even if it is for short amounts of time. 
  • Give yourself frequent breaks from staring at screens.

New Years is a good time to eat healthier for your eyes

Your eyes benefit from proper nutrition as much as the rest of your body and health. Good foods for our eyes include:

  • Leafy greens such as spinach and kale
  • Eggs and foods that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin
  • Fish because they contain Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Citrus fruit such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.
  • Beans and foods that are high in zinc
  • Sweet potatoes and other squashes for their Vitamin A
  • Carrots as well for Vitamin A
  • Nuts for their zinc and Vitamin A
  • Shellfish like oysters

Asheville Vision Associates has been western North Carolina's trusted eye doctor for 30 years. We have experienced a number of Asheville winters, with a variety of weather conditions, so we know what to expect for residents and their eyes. One of the most important things you can do to protect your eyes during any season is to schedule your regular eye care appointment. If it is time for you to visit your eye doctor, contact Asheville Vision Associates to set up your appointment. We are taking steps to make sure that our office is as safe and sanitary as possible. Make sure you take care of your eyes this winter, contact us today.