Winter eyes, are there questions you forgot to ask?

February 8, 2015

Winter can be a tough season for our eyes, with the season’s cold, dry temperatures, heavy winds, and UV rays reflecting Winter Eyeoff snow and ice. During the winter season there is less humidity outdoors, and indoors, we experience even more dryness due to home heating.  This is for the most part common knowledge.  However, here are some points you may have wondered about but forgot to ask. 

Do Contacts Freeze?
No. Winter’s cold, dry air might irritate your contacts, but you needn’t worry about them freezing or sticking to your eye. The military looked into this in an early 80’s study, in which they fitted rabbits with hard contact lenses and exposed them to minus 90 Fahrenheit temperatures and 78 mph winds. Fortunately for the rabbits, the lenses did not freeze, and no acute harmful effects were observed.


Can my eyes get sunburned?
Yes. It happens to many outdoor enthusiasts during the Winter season.  It can feel like the eyeballs are burning.  The technical term is “keratitis.” It occurs when there’s extensive UV exposure to the cornea. It can lead to blurry vision and very sore eyes for 24 to 72 hours. One common cause of keratitis is skiing without goggles. Cloudy or dark sky should not be used as an excuse, since harmful ultraviolet (UV) can penetrate clouds.  The sun’s UV rays can be even harsher during winter than in the summer months due to light reflecting off snow. Wearing eye protection, either goggles while skiing or sunglasses during the course of a regular day is essential.


Why do my eyes water when it’s cold?
Typically, your eyes water because they’re dry. Anything that irritates your eyes, including dry eye, causes a tearing reflex. Dry eye, a common condition in wintertime, occurs when winter winds evaporate moisture from the top layer of the cornea. That sends the tear glands working overtime to restore moisture. There are a number of ways to improve dry eye. First, try wearing protective glasses or goggles. You can also use saline eye drops before you go outside. Indoors, try using a humidifier. If dry eye persists, consult with your eye doctor. In chronic cases, treatments like LipiFlow can open your blocked eye glands and resume natural production of lipids (oils), which are necessary for a healthy eye.


Why do the bags under my eyes appear heavier in winter?
Dark circles, or “bags,” are often caused by tiny capillaries leaking blood beneath the skin’s surface. When that blood oxidizes, it turns the skin a bruise-like dark blue color. It’s often more pronounced in winter time because our skin becomes lighter and more transparent, due to less exposure to sunlight. It’s exacerbated by fatigue, due to lower levels of vitamin D, also generated in sunlight.  If left untreated the under bag and dark circles can become a chronic condition.  Therefore, it would be wise to control this with an effective under eye treatment such as our Easy Eye Solutions line of products.  These are well known and extremely effective.