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Weather Protection

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Brrr… as temperatures dip below freezing, we protect our health by wrapping up in thermals and winter woolies to ward off cold and flu, but these winter white landscapes bring more than a few health hazards.

In the flurry of disrupted travel plans and frozen pipes, it’s important to bear in mind the potential health hazards wintery weather can bring and how we can look after ourselves. While we are accustomed to the prevention of common ailments such as influenza, we are not so diligent in protecting our eyes.

It’s not just gleeful winter sports enthusiasts that should be concerned about eye protection, we are all vulnerable to harmful UV rays, dry eyes and tear layer evaporation during the winter months. Contact lens wearers are also prone to hardened lenses and lack of moisture in the eyes.

Fortunately there are steps we can take to prevent serious damage.

Dry Eyes

A common irritant caused by a drop in humidity and an increased exposure to artificial heaters that absorb moisture from the room making office workers particularly susceptible due to enclosed working environments.

Tips

  1. Use humidifiers for heat as they don’t absorb moisture
  2. Hydrate eyes with artificial tear drops
  3. Lubricate with eye mineral oil lubrication while you sleep
  4. Blink. This may sound silly but when we focus on something for prolonged periods such as a computer screen, we sometimes forget

Contact Lens Wearers

Generally dry eyes are a common complaint for contact lens wearers, so it is particularly advisable to use artificial tears and limit outdoor exposure. Soft lenses require a lot of moisture to prevent them hardening and sticking that may cause your eyes to change shape.

Tear Film Evaporation

The surface of the eye often becomes irritated by icy winds attributing to dry eyes. Wearing a brimmed winter hat and hooded jacket will protect against these harsh winds.

Ultraviolet Rays and Glare

With reduced daylight hours and cold temperatures, sunshine may seem less intense but as winter sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle it can be powerful enough to burn your eyes and the added hazard of reflection against snow can even cause snow blindness comparable to sunburn.

Tips

  1. Wear sunglasses with at least 95% UV protection
  2. Snow lovers should protect their eyes using properly fitted goggles with polycarbonate lenses

Remember good eye care is for all seasons and protecting your vision will help you have a wonderful winter.

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