How to Protect Your Eyes in Every Season
Aging affects our eyesight. That is a well-known fact, but this time we’re going to look at the way the weather affects our eye health and quality of vision.
This is an important issue that needs to be addressed correctly. We should avoid dismissing eye discomforts as habits or fixations. Sunshine, cold, light and pollen all have a direct effect on our eye health. Doing something about it is always better than putting up with discomfort. Common weather-related symptoms include itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, excess tearing, red eyes and photophobia (light sensitivity). Blurred vision, a rare but possible symptom, requires a proper diagnosis by an ophthalmologist.
Here is what we need to look out for in all four seasons, starting from spring, the most feared by people with allergies.
Temperatures rise, wind is less intense and rain makes the air moist. All in all, a blessing for our eyes – were it not for a small detail, pollen. Spring bloom makes for a dreamy show, but it can turn into a nightmare for many. As anyone suffering from seasonal allergies will tell you, common allergy symptoms include not only sneezing, nasal congestion, cough and itchy eyes but also ocular inflammations that can be very uncomfortable. Similar symptoms are experienced by people who have a mild allergy but are not aware of it. Their symptoms can be so imperceptible that they do not go for an allergy test or seek a diagnosis. However, even just a mild allergy increases the risk of conjunctivitis (pink eye) because we tend to touch and rub our eyes more. My advice is to keep your eyes well hydrated and to use antihistamine eye drops when the discomfort is too much to bear or lasts more than a few minutes.
Though not so often, even eyes, just like skin, can get sunburned. Common symptoms may include pain, sometimes acute, and impaired vision – which is luckily just temporary – due to a corneal inflammation (keratitis). Wearing 100% UV protection sunglasses when the sun is at its hottest and using artificial tears are two easy ways to prevent eye sunburn.
Wind, sand or a sudden temperature change – like when we step out into the sun from an air-conditioned space – are also frequently the cause of eye problems.
My advice is to always keep your eyes well hydrated by drinking a lot of water and using artificial tears regularly.
Though allergies are less of a problem in summer, they do not go away either. On top of that, people are more likely to experience dry eyes in the hot season. Quality eye drops are the best way to prevent and treat this condition.
Fall eye problems have a lot to do with changes in visual horizon and as such may occur in other seasons as well. These changes are felt whenever we go from wide open spaces – mountains, sea and natural settings in general – to confined spaces, such as houses with a poor view or offices. The effort our eyes make when focusing up close in confined spaces may reveal visual problems that are less noticeable when we are outdoors. In fall this may be worse due to the decrease in daylight hours and sunlight intensity. It’s not stress, tiredness or post-vacation blues. It’s time for a proper eye exam.
Our eyes can get sunburned even in winter. Indeed, the likelihood of sun damage is even higher during the cold season as a result of the so-called snow blindness or flash burn often occurring in the mountains, i.e. the combined effect of snow glare, sunlight and dry air. Crisp weather may cause problems to our eyes even in urban areas, especially when combined with northern cold winds carrying particulate matter. The constriction of the blood vessels around the eyes resulting from winter drops in temperature may cause vision changes, such as blurriness and double vision.
Protecting the eyes with quality sunglasses is therefore crucial also in winter, especially when spending a lot of time outdoors.
In winter some people experience excess tearing. Watery eyes can be warded off by using sunglasses even on cloudy days. Cold weather and wind can also lead to bloodshot eyes; all symptoms that, regardless of the degree of discomfort they cause, should be treated with good hydration.
The more you look after your eyes in your daily life, the less you will need to consult an eye specialist like me.