07.12.2009

Winter eye care is essential

Winter eye care is essential

By Alexa Kaczka

It is common practice to protect our eyes in the summer months, however it is just as important to make sure they are adequately protected once the weather turns a little colder.

The sun"s rays do not diminish in the winter and exposure to UV rays during the season can temporarily harm the eyes as well as increasing the risk of developing sunlight-related conditions.

Having the heating on more can also play havoc with people"s eyes, getting rid of all the moisture in the air and causing them to dry out.

This can prove particularly problematic for contact lens wearers.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises people to use a humidifier in their homes during the colder months, as this will help keep eyes moist.

It also suggests that wearing sunglasses even in colder weather can help protect eyes from the sun as overexposure to UV rays during winter can lead to temporary damage like photokeratitis.

Wearing protective sunglasses is particularly important if it has snowed as sunlight reflected by the snow can cause sunburnt eyes.

The society also had advice for contact lens wearers at winter, suggesting that they need to take extra care to make sure their eyes do not dry out.

It suggested using artificial tears and staying indoors if possible, as well as avoiding too many festive tipples.

"If you are using soft contact lenses then limit your alcohol intake. Remember that soft lenses require lot of moisture and if they tend to dry out then they can stick and change the shape of your eyes," the body added.

Anyone planning to hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding this winter also needs to pay extra attention to their eye care.

While most people will ensure that they are well-prepared for a ski or snowboarding trip with plenty of warm clothing, it is all too easy to forget protection for your eyes.

Skiers and snowboarders are at risk of snow blindness if they fail to protect their eyes adequately, meaning that ski goggles are a must for anyone slaloming down the slopes this winter, regardless of whether or not they normally wear contact lenses or glasses.

If you wear contact lenses, you need to make sure that your goggles well ventilated so your contacts do not dry up.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises using a pair of properly fitted ski goggles with polycarbonate lenses and also donning a brimmed hat or hooded jacket to protect the eye"s tear film.

Many ski fans are unsure as to whether they can actually wear their contact lenses on the slopes, however, lenses are much less hassle than glasses as they will not steam up in the cold. Another benefit is that they are not at risk of breaking if you take a tumble on the slopes like glasses are.

Experienced skiers writing on the Snowhead forum advise taking daily contact lenses, or at least a couple of spare sets, as it is no fun hunting for a lost lens in the snow!

by Martin Burns


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