Cold Weather Eyecare – How Winter Affects Your Eyes

Dec 1, 2020

woman out in the snow with cold weather eyecare glasses

Winter, especially in the UK, is long, cold, and usually wet too. In the spring and summer, we are accustomed to wearing sunglasses when it’s too bright and utilising transition lenses, but are you taking the same care of your eyes throughout the winter months?

Here, we look at the most common affects the winter can have on your eyes and measures you can take towards effective eye care in the cold.


1. Watery eyes

Watery eyes, or excessive tearing, can be irritating at best but become particularly troublesome when uninterrupted vision is required when driving, for example. As a result, hand to eye contact is increased, and at a time when we are trying to limit the transfer of bacteria anywhere, it is not ideal to be continually wiping tears away.

While eye-watering is a common effect of the cold weather but is also very typical of seasonal allergies, and so conducting your own process of elimination and trying over-the-counter treatments to alleviate your symptoms will help to determine if it is the cold or an allergy. If you find over-the-counter treatments are not effective, and the problem is persistent, seek medical advice.


2. Dryness and irritation

Cold air, despite the feeling of dampness, doesn’t actually retain moisture and is very dry. Being outside for extended periods such as a walk or even inside on particularly cold days can trigger dry eyes through lack of moisture. Central heating to combat the cold can cause similar conditions, leading to eye rubbing, which in turn leaves eyes irritated. To remedy this, you can purchase eye drops for a range of symptoms to provide comfort throughout the day. Where it is especially dry, moisten the atmospheric conditions with a humidifier or even a wet towel on a radiator.


3. Sensitivity

Typically, more prevalent in snowy conditions, but on those bright, frosty days when we do see the sun, those with sensitive eyes are not so pleased to see it. White reflection from the snow when eyes have become acclimatised to a darker, somewhat gloomier backdrop can cause discomfort – caused by the need to blink more, squint, and often a culmination of many of the cold weather effects in a short space of time. Much like we protect ourselves in the summer, it’s wise to have sunglasses, eye drops, and headache remedies on hand to quickly alleviate any sudden symptoms of sensitivity should we experience snow and bright conditions.


4. UV Damage

Light sensitivity leads us nicely on to UV damage. As we’ve said, we protect ourselves in the summer months without question, but UV rays are present and dangerous throughout the winter months too. It’s not just when it is sunny either; much like you can still achieve a tan on a cloudy day, UV rays still come through in the winter months, and particularly in snow and frost conditions. If you go skiing, you will wear goggles or sunglasses, and much of the same care applies in the UK, albeit the goggles maybe a touch OTT. Should your eyes become sensitive to light, itchy, and red after being outside in bright or snowy conditions, then you may have sunburn on your eyes. In this case, you should seek medical advice to reduce the chances of longer-term eye damage.


5. Inflammation and redness

All of the effects we have looked at so far can lead to inflammation and redness. You may experience these as symptoms first, and we recommend that you treat them as soon as they become apparent. Eye discoloration, swollen eyelids, flakiness, tenderness, and redness are extremely uncomfortable and an unnecessary evil of winter if they can be treated over the counter. Much like the excessive tearing, these issues are often symptomatic of seasonal allergies too. Stock up on treatments for these and protect your eyes from bright conditions and dryness so you can determine the root cause and treat it effectively.


6. Blurriness and double vision

Any changes in vision should not be ignored, come rain or shine. Cold weather for the more sensitive can deliver short-term blurriness when stepping outside from a warm place, for instance, but should not last long or be reoccurring. If you experience this, get back to warmth where possible and take some of the measures we have looked at here to provide protection. If you continue to have changes in your vision, then you must see a professional and ascertain why this is happening as soon as possible.

Winter can be bleak but often so beautiful too. Caring for your eyes should be a year-round endeavour, but with winter having the most brutal shift of seasonal changes, we recommend taking these steps to ensure you can enjoy the brighter days and frosty nights with clarity and comfort.

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