12 December 2023

The College provides advice on winter eye care

As the nights draw in and we enter a harsh winter, we may experience some issues with our eyes and even our vision, as we find that our eyes need some particular seasonal care.

Denise Voon MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists, has some advice to help everyone care for their eye health and protect their vision through the winter months:

Dry eyes

If you suffer from dry eyes, this can be exacerbated by central heating. Lowering the temperature in rooms where possible and opening windows, even for a few minutes, can lessen the effects. A humidifier will also help, but a really simple (and free) solution is to place a bowl of water near to the radiator, to humidify the air. Your optometrist or pharmacist will also be able to advise you on suitable moisturising eye drops if you need them.

Increased screen time

We tend to spend more time indoors during winter, which for many people means more screen time – especially for those who also work from home. Although there is no evidence to suggest increased time on the computer damages your vision, it can be 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, having the top of the screen at or below your eye level
  • Minimising any distracting reflections in your screen, e.g. from windows. Positioning your screen at a right angle to a window is optimal
  • Looking at something 20 metres away, for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes to rest your eyes
  • Blinking regularly. Focusing on a screen can make you blink less, which may make your eyes dry and uncomfortable.

Winter sun

Sunglasses aren’t just for summer. It is important to use them in winter too. Snow and ice are reflective and cause the sun’s rays to reach your eyes from below as well as above. The low sun in winter can also be dazzling to our eyes, so it’s important to wear sunglasses on sunny winter days, and particularly when driving.

Shorter days

During the winter months, you might notice that you need to wear your glasses more, especially as you get older. This is because in the winter months it is darker, and when there is less light available, your pupil expands. This reduces the eye's depth of focus, which means that you can experience blurriness. To help with this, make sure you have good lighting, for example have a lamp near the chair where you sit to read, and ensure you switch it on as soon as it is getting dark, or have a timer set to automatically turn it on.

Playing outside!

There is evidence that spending time outdoors could reduce the onset of myopia (short sightedness) in children. So, in the winter months, wrap the kids up warm and make sure they still 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 produced downloadable assets, including an eye health poster, for members to use to help inform their patients on the different ways winter can affect vision and exacerbate eye conditions.

Sign in to the College website to view the assets below.

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