Winter Woes: Cold Weather and Your Eyes

Whether you’re worrying about reapplying your sunscreen or concerned about the road conditions after a particularly bad winter storm, the weather impacts our lives in a variety of ways. Our eyes get no reprieve when it’s cold outside; if it’s not the cold air and gusting winds, it’s the dry indoor heat we have to crank up to keep warm.

Winter Woes: Cold Weather and Your Eyes

Whether you’re worrying about reapplying your sunscreen or concerned about the road conditions after a particularly bad winter storm, the weather impacts our lives in a variety of ways. Our eyes get no reprieve when it’s cold outside; if it’s not the cold air and gusting winds, it’s the dry indoor heat we have to crank up to keep warm.


While we remember to bundle up, drive a little more carefully, salt our sidewalks, and obsessively check the weather before planning what to wear, one thing that tends to get overlooked (pun intended) in the winter is eye health. It’s important to take care of our eyes and to do that, we have to understand seasonal issues related to eye health. Here are a few ways the weather impacts eye health and how to alleviate some of the issues:
 
Dry Eyes
Harsh weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in our eyes which causes dryness and irritation. This can manifest in itching, burning, or blurring and can lead us to rub or scratch our eyes. Use a humidifier at home as much as possible, this will help with overall dryness—eyes, skin, nose, hair. Humidifiers are a must-have for the winter months. Dry eyes can make wearing your contact lenses almost unbearable and it can also increase your chances of an eye infection. Some simple ways to treat winter dry eyes are:

  • Humidifiers
  • Over-the-counter artificial tears/eye drops
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Switch off between contacts and glasses. Your eyes need a little break once in a while.
  • Protect your eyes! Bundle up, wear a hat, wear sunglasses—use eye protection!
 
Eye Protection
This doesn’t just apply to blocking your eyes from the wind. The sun can damage your eyes even when it’s cold outside. Snowy conditions increase the sun’s U.V effects because the sun reflects off of the white snow. Here are some tips for protecting your eyes from the winter sun:
  • Sunglasses—even if the sun appears to be behind the clouds, with the snow coverage, the reflections can be very harsh.
  • Avoid rubbing. Winter means germs. Keep your hands away from your eyes unless you’ve washed them.
  • Proper Protection—winter sports are one of the best things winter has to offer. Just be sure to use eye protection.

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Understanding the Difference: Sjogren’s or Winter Dry Eyes

There’s no doubt about it, dryness and winter go together almost as well as a hat and gloves. Our skin is a little more dry, our hair is a little duller, and our eyes just feel more irritable. Eyes tend to get the brunt of the harsh weather; we bundle up our hands, feet, heads, and bodies with winter gear, but we don’t usually think about eye protection in the winter.
 

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Dr. Hinkemeyer Meets with Congressman Tom Emmer

Dr. Hinkemeyer and fellow members of the Minnesota Optometric Association were honored to speak with Congressman Tom Emmer recently about issues affecting optometry in Minnesota. We are so proud to have doctors that care deeply about these issues and improving the quality of eye care for all patients in our state.

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