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Home » What's New » Winter Dry Eye Syndrome… No Need to Suffer

Winter Dry Eye Syndrome… No Need to Suffer


We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

Even though it is common to refer to winter as the rainy time of year because of the rain and snow, the air is really more dry during the winter, which often causes your eyes to be more sensitive.

Our staff is available to help you find the most effective ways to keep your eyes hydrated during the dry winter season. Even before you step outdoors you should prevent dryness by using a humidifier. Eye doctors recommend the use of humidifiers in rooms with forced air heaters, which can decrease moisture from the environment.

Additionally, it’s wise to take additional precautions once you step outside and will be exposed to the elements. You can further shield your eyes from the elements by putting on a hat with a brim and wearing sunglasses. It is important to shield your eyes from the harsh winds and stop evaporation of the tear film in your eyes.

If your symptoms become unbearable you may want to consider rewetting drops which may help relieve the irritating symptoms of dry eyes. Consult with your optometrist before you start using artificial tears to make sure they are the right solution for your symptoms.

Don't forget that if you use contact lenses it’s important to be extra cautious in the winter. If possible, make use of rewetting drops as often as you can. While you may not recognize it, lenses are like sponges and are required to remain hydrated to maintain their shape. Once they begin to dry out, the contacts can change shape and cling to your eyes, which causes pain and cloudiness. So let your contacts drink up...  and make sure to keep them lubricated this winter. With a little awareness and planning, you can stay clear of the hazards of the cold, dry weather and keep your eyes clear and moisturized throughout the season!