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How to Take Care of Your Eyes During Winter

How to Take Care of Your Eyes During Winter

We expect our skin to take a beating during the winter months. But our eyes do, too. Cold air, the glaring winter sun, chilly winds and indoor heating can put a strain on our eyes, leaving them to tear, feel itchy or dry, and sometimes even sore. And women who are middle-aged and older seem to have an increased rate of experiencing dry eyes. 
“The most common problem in the winter is the low humidity with forced-air heating; it can dry out our eyes significantly,” says optometrist Jeffrey Anshel.  And all of that forced air blowing around in your home also can toss around tiny dust particles and cause your allergies to flare. Hello dark, puffy circles!
So what can you do to try and keep your eyes healthy all winter long? Follow a few simple steps:
Wear sunglasses when you’re outside. “We should have sunglasses to protect from the added reflected UV from snow and to protect our eyes from the wind,” recommends optometrist Karen Wrigley, a member of VisionSource. Did you know that if you’re out in the snow on a bright, sunny day with no eye protection, your eyes can get something called snow blindness? “The corneas can become extremely irritated resulting in pain, tearing and light sensitivity,” says Dr. Wrigley. So break out the proper eye shades!
When you’re inside, don’t let dry air blow on your face! Sure, you want to be next to that nice, warm heat source–and that includes the heater in your car. But warm, dry air can do a number on your eyes (and skin!). Dr. Wrigley adds that you should keep heating ducts and fireplace flues clean to reduce allergens. You can also help reduce blown allergens in your house by using HEPA filters in your central air system. You can also use a humidifier to keep the air moist.
Drink lots of water. Not only will water keep your skin hydrated, it will keep your eyes healthy too.
Eat healthy! “Some nutrients are very specific for dry eyes, such a fish oil and black current seed oil,” says Dr. Ashnel. He recommends women add fresh flax oil to their diets if they are experiencing dry eyes. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are both known to dehydrate the body.
Use lubricating eye drops. According to several optometrists from VisionSource, skip the eye drops that promise to get the redness out of your eyes. They typically have ingredients that cause your eyes to dry even more. You don’t need that! Look for gel drops or lubricating drops, which soothe the eyes. However, if you notice you need to use those drops many times a day, if your eyes are itchy, red, burning, and just plain irritated for more than a few days, it’s time to see your eye doctor.
Get your eyes checked annually. And why not schedule that appointment during the winter? 
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