The winter weather can be particularly harsh on your eyes and presents new and different reasons to protect them.

Here are some of the ways winter can affect your vision, or exacerbate an eye condition, including tips for prevention.

Driving in winter
It can be difficult to see when driving during the long nights of winter, and it’s easy to understand why more accidents happen at night. Your pupils are larger in the dark than in the daylight, and your depth of field decreases when pupils are large.

With the longer nights, you are forced to drive more regularly at dusk and dawn. The glare of the lower sun creates more difficulty for drivers, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out. Have your eyes tested to ensure you have the best vision possible. It is useful to have a pair of sunglasses with good UV protection in the car to help with the glare from the sun.

Dry eyes
When it’s cold outside, we know how tempting it is to stand in front of the heater or pump up the heat of your air conditioner to warm up. However, by doing so, you may be putting your eye health at risk. Apart from drying out the surrounding air, heat causes the tear film on your eyes to evaporate, drying them out and causing discomfort.

If you already have dry eyes, central heating may exacerbate it. The treatment for dry eyes depends upon the cause, so it is important to speak to your optometrist if your eyes feel dry, gritty and red.

There are some simple steps you can take to minimise the discomfort caused by dry eyes in winter:

Lower the temperature in rooms when possible.

Blink more
Many people find that their dry eye gets worse when reading or using a computer. This is because we blink less when we are doing anything that needs a lot of visual attention. Use a humidifier at work and home. Opening windows for a few minutes on cold days will also help. Moisten your eyes with artificial tears.

Time spent indoors
People tend to watch more television and spend more time using computers during the winter. Remember to take breaks and operate the 20:20:20 rule; every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.

Winter lighting
The lower levels of light in winter can make reading and close tasks more difficult, especially for older people and those with existing vision problems. Extra light, in general, can help and light for these sorts of activities should be as close as possible and be flexible enough to direct exactly where you need it most.

Watery eyes
In cold and windy conditions, many people complain that their eyes water more than normal. Wearing spectacles will protect against the wind, even if you don’t usually wear them outdoors. Ailments like dry eyes, redness and irritation, and even pink eye are common this time of year; it’s important to see your Optometrist should you experience persistent watery, red, scratchy or itchy eyes.

Don’t let winter get to your eyes, visit your Optometrist at World of Vision to maintain healthy eyes.