COVID-19 Alert   We have changed our procedures for COVID-19.   Learn More

How Winter Can Affect Your Eyes

Woman walking her dog in the winter and both explore the snow together in playful mood

Winter can be a harsh season, drying out your skin and wreaking havoc on your hair. What you may not realize, though, is that it can be just as rough on your eyes. How does winter weather affect your eyes, and how can you protect them?

  • Dryness: Between cold, dry, outdoor air and heated, dry, indoor air, your body is bound to be lacking in moisture. Your skin can become dry, your lips may be chapped, and it’s likely you’ll experience dry eyes.
  • Redness: Your eyes can become red, tender, or inflamed, and have swollen eyelids or become discolored. You may also experience involuntary tics or eyelid spasms. These symptoms can be the result of dry eye, seasonal allergies, or snow blindness, and can sometimes be alleviated through the use of a cool compress like a damp washcloth.
  • Excessive tearing: While some people may experience dry eyes in the winter, others find that their eyes are runny, with excess tearing. If you find that your eyes are tearing up, pay attention to the cause. It may be wind or cold air, in which case goggles might be helpful. On the other hand, it could be allergies, which can be alleviated by allergy medication and eye drops.
  • Light sensitivity: It may seem counterintuitive for light to bother your eyes during such a dark and gloomy season, but snow and ice can create reflective surfaces that greatly increase glare. If your eyes are sensitive, you may experience blinking, discomfort, and other symptoms in bright winter light.
  • Sunburn: You may not realize it, but sunburn affects your eyes just as it affects your skin. Sometimes, you can experience eye sunburn and snow blindness at the same time, which can cause itchiness and pain. Protect your eyes, especially when you’re participating in outdoor activities like skiing and sledding.
  • Vision changes: Extremely low temperatures can cause constriction in the blood vessels in and around the eyes, which can result in blurriness and double vision. To prevent this, avoid staying outside for long periods of time in below-freezing temperatures. If you do notice vision changes, move to a warm area as soon as possible.
  • What you can do: Help prevent dry eyes by remaining hydrated, increasing your omega-3 intake, and running a humidifier in your home. Protect your eyes when you’re out in the sun, and when you’re doing any activities that can send debris into the air, like shoveling snow or chopping wood. For persistently red or teary eyes, or you notice unexplained vision changes, talk to your eye doctor.

If you’re looking for an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Derry, Londonderry or Windham, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Celebrating our thirtieth year of eye care, we proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care, using top of the line technology. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.