The winter can be hard on our eyes. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable all winter long.
10 tips to help you keep your eyes healthy this winter
#1. Invest in a humidifier
Dry-itchy eyes are a common problem in the winter, and there are many different factors that can contribute to winter dry-eye, including — but not limited to — drier-than-average air.
But, one thing that certainly doesn’t help is our heaters. Sure, they prevent us from freezing to death, but they also zap the already limited humidity out of the air.
This can lead to all kinds of discomfort, but it’s especially troublesome for our eyes. Luckily, though, it’s easily remedied by investing in a good humidifier.
#2. Drink plenty of water
Apart from using a humidifier, there’s not much you can do about the loss of moisture in the air in your home. And, unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to control the moisture in the air outside.
However, you absolutely can control how much water you drink, and that counts for a lot where dry eye is concerned.
Believe it or not, staying properly hydrated is actually an important part of keeping a healthy moisture level in your eyes. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water, or about two liters or half a gallon, every single day.
#3. Wear sunglasses
Sunglasses are a must-have accessory in the summer, but they are much less common in the winter for a lot of people. That’s unfortunate because sunglasses are particularly helpful in the winter.
Snow is a big part of the reason why it’s so important to wear sunglasses in the winter. When the sun reflects off of the snow, it directs harmful UV rays right into your eyes.
Wearing glasses isn’t just important on sunny winter days, either. You also want to ensure that you wear sunglasses even when it’s cloudy out.
Even if it’s not super bright outside, UV rays can still have damaging effects on your eyes.
#4. Wear protective eyewear
Some people take the winter off from outdoor activities, but for others, winter sports are the reason for the season.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than barreling down the mountain on skis or a snowboard. And, snowshoeing is an incredible way to get a cardio workout during the wintertime. But, always make sure to protect your eyes when doing winter sports.
Sunglasses are OK, but the ultimate in protection for winter sports are goggles with built-in UV protection.
Goggles provide all-around protection not only from the sun, but also from snow, ice and debris that can get into your eyes as you’re carving your way down the trail.
#5. Avoid touching your eyes
The cold air can make your eyes dry and itchy, which can be incredibly irritating. It can be downright difficult not to rub and touch your eyes under these circumstances, but it’s important to try.
In a normal year, flu and cold season is enough of a reason not to touch your eyes, but with COVID-19 surging in many places, it’s more important than ever to keep your hands away from your face.
Not only is there a risk that you could get sick, but your hands can also carry a number of germs that could cause an eye infection.
If you do need to touch your eyes for any reason — you need to adjust your contact lenses, you have something in your eye, etc. — make sure you wash your hands well before you do.
#6. Use moisturizing eye drops
When your eyes are itchy and dry, the absolute best way to soothe them is by using moisturizing eye drops. Not only will your eyes be more comfortable, but you won’t be nearly as tempted to touch them.
Artificial tears can be a good option for both preventing and soothing eye discomfort and dryness, and they are available over the counter.
Generally, preservative-free artificial tears are safe for most people, but it never hurts to ask your eye doctor for a recommendation. This is especially important if your eyes are overly dry or painful, or you have other eye health problems.
#7. Wear glasses more often and contacts less
As someone who has always had vision problems, I can’t tell you how glad I am that contact lenses exist. But, even if you adore your contact lenses, taking a break every once in a while can help to keep your eyes comfortable, especially in the winter.
Wearing contacts for long stretches at a time can dry out your eyes and make them uncomfortable. When the air is already drier than usual in the winter, that can be a bad combination.
If you also have glasses, consider wearing them a little more often during the winter, and wearing your contacts a little less often. Your eyes will be more comfortable for it.
#8. Soothe discomfort with a warm compress
Warm compresses are a great home remedy to ease discomfort from a variety of eye problems, including styes, muscle spasm, pink eye, swollen eyelids and dry eye, just to name a few.
To use a warm compress, simply wet a washcloth with warm water, ring it out and place it over one of both of your closed eyes until the discomfort subsides. Just make sure that the water isn’t too hot, and always stick with plain water instead of using epsom salt or anything else.
Part of what makes warm compresses so great is that they are an all-natural way to ease pain and discomfort. You can use a warm compress multiple times a day to keep your eyes comfortable and pain-free.
#9. Follow the 20-20-20 rule
Your eyes are already under enough duress during the winter, what with the cold, dry air. The last thing you want is to add to their discomfort with eye strain.
Eye strain is the result of spending too much time focusing on computers, smartphones and other screens. Eye strain can cause dry, red, uncomfortable eyes, as well as headaches and blurred vision, but luckily, it can be easily combated.
The simplest way to prevent eye strain is to take a break from your screen on a regular basis by following the 20-20-20 rule.
The 20-20-20 rule says to take a break from looking at a screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds while focusing on something that’s at least 20 feet away.
#10. Visit your eye doctor
Dry eye is a very normal problem to experience during the winter, and as we’ve learned, too much screen time, heaters and contact lenses can all make it worse.
There are plenty of ways to combat dry eye. In some situations, however, dry eye cannot be soothed by warm compresses or eye drops. That’s when a trip to your local eye doctor is in order.
Are you due for an annual eye exam or sick of dealing with dry eye and discomfort? Start your search for the right optometrist near you with Top Rated Local®.
With Top Rated Local, you can compare eye doctors in your area side by side and get a glimpse of their overall reputation. You can also read eye doctor reviews from across the web, including Google, Yelp and more.