Common injuries and how to avoid them when out in the cold.

It gets cold in Maine, and while we protect our body from the bitter bite of Jack Frost, it’s important to remember that our eyes need protection as well.

Here are some common eye issues and how to avoid them this winter: 

Excessive tearing
“I’m not crying, you’re crying.”

Wind, or cold dry air can cause eyes to water. Excessive tearing can make it seem like you’re weepy and the cold can cause the tears to freeze, making it very uncomfortable. Make sure you’re wearing sunglasses when out, or wearing goggles while on the mountain or snowmobile to protect your eyes from high winds.

Sun Damage
“Have you been in the sun much, or…”

Yes, it’s totally possible to damage your eyes from sunlight—even in the winter! When everything is covered in snow and ice, there are more reflective surfaces to bounce ultraviolet (UV) light back onto your eyes, causing damage to the eyes’ front surface. Wear your sunglasses or goggles all winter long to keep your eyes clear and free from sun damage.

Snow Blindness
“Wait, where did everyone go…”

A more serious form of sun damage is photokeratitis, better known as snow blindness. It is caused by exposure to UV rays, particularly at high elevation, and can also be caused by dry, freezing cold wind. Symptoms are revealed after the damage is done and include blurry vision, swelling and watery eyes. Wearing sunglasses or goggles that block UV rays and cover the entire eye area can help prevent this.

Dry eyes
“Are you winking at me?”

Because the air is so dry during the winter, it can be difficult for some people to keep their eyes properly lubricated. Dry eyes are also possible from the heating systems at your home and office. Use eye protection when in the elements, blink frequently or use artificial tears, and invest in a humidifier until spring arrives.

All of the above can contribute to possible vision changes, such as blurry vision or problems adjusting to light/dark. If your vision changes are not temporary and don’t resolve on their own, make an appointment with your optometrist to get them checked out right away.