4 November 2022

The College issues advice on eye health and vision during winter months

As the nights draw in and winter deepens, we may experience some problems with our vision, and find that our eyes need some seasonal care.

Denise Voon MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists, has some timely advice to help the public to protect their vision and eye health this winter:

Increased screen time

During the winter, we tend to spend more time indoors, which undoubtedly means more screen time – especially for those who are working from home too.  Although there is no evidence to suggest increased time on the computer damages your vision, you may find it tiring to look at a monitor for long periods of time. 

The College recommends:

  • positioning the monitor so it’s roughly arms lengths away from your eyes and, if possible, keep the top of the screen at or below your eye level
  • minimising any distracting reflections in your screen, e.g. windows
  • looking at something 20 ft away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes
  • blinking regularly. Focusing on a screen may make you blink less, which may make your eyes dry and uncomfortable.

Shorter days

During the winter months, you may notice you need to wear your glasses more, especially as you get older. This is because when there is less light available, your pupil expands which reduces the eye's depth of focus, and means that you notice blurriness. Make sure you have good lighting, for example a lamp near the chair where you sit to read, and that you turn it on as soon as it is getting dark.

Winter sun

Sunglasses aren’t just for summer. Snow and ice are reflective, so the sun’s rays can reach your eyes from below as well as above. The low sun in winter can be dazzling, so wear sunglasses on sunny winter days, particularly when driving.

Dry eyes

If you suffer from dry eyes, which may be exacerbated by central heating, lower the temperature in rooms when possible and open windows, even for a few minutes. You can also use a humidifier, or have a bowl of water near the radiator to help humidify the air. Your optometrist or pharmacist will also be able to advise you on suitable moisturising eye drops if you need them.

Playing outside!

There is evidence that spending time outdoors could reduce the onset of myopia (short sightedness) in children. So wrap the kids up warm and make sure they have some time playing outside each day.

Visit your optometrist

If you have any issues with your vision, call your optometrist to book an eye examination

Further information and advice on eyes and vision  can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website:.

Get involved!

The College has developed an eye health poster and shareable assets for members to use to inform their patients on the different ways winter can affect vision and exacerbate eye conditions. The poster and assets can be downloaded here. Please note, this package also includes resized versions suitable for Instagram.

Assets

Related further reading

Clinical Adviser for the College Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom on how to ensure a sustainable optometry workforce.

Clinical case studies can make a small but important contribution to the sum of clinical knowledge. Why do we need them, asks Kim Thomas, and how do you write one?

The College’s Clinical Editor, Jane Veys MCOptom, on rabbits in the headlights and royally good handovers