Protect Your Eyes From Cold Weather

Published by Lance Kugler, MD on February 16, 2021

Protect Your Eyes From Cold Weather

At Kugler Vision in Omaha, Nebraska, we are no strangers to the winter’s chill. In fact, as we write this, it’s a frosty 9 degrees below zero out there! The extreme cold we are facing this week got us thinking about our top cold weather eye health tips. Learn from our vision experts what you need to do to protect your eyes from cold weather.

protect your eyesDry Winter Air Leads to Dry

Uncomfortable Eyes

Everyone knows to throw on some shades before going out in the summer sun, but your eyes face unique challenges in every season. What about winter? The effects of extremely cold, dry air can be especially harsh on your eyes. When temperatures plummet, most people crank up the heat. Unfortunately, the negative side of staying toasty is that this typically dries out the air in your home and workplace. This helps contribute to one of the most common eye complaints of the fall and winter: excessive eye dryness. 

Dry eyes are uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful. While some people deal with chronic dry eye, or dry eye syndrome, even people who do not usually suffer from dry eye find themselves reaching for wetting drops due to the very dry air in winter.

Some common symptoms of dry eye are: 

  • inflammation
  • burning, itching, and discomfort
  • foreign object sensation
  • excessive watering of the eyes – in an effort to lubricate and relieve the dryness, dry eyes may produce too many tears, causing blurry vision
  • redness

Some people tend to suffer from dry eye at higher rates than others. Women who are approaching menopause  or postmenopausal are more likely to acquire dry eye due to the effects of estrogen loss. People who wear contact lenses also  commonly experience dry eye issues. 


The Link Between Winter Dry Eyes and Contact Lenses

Anyone can suffer from dry eye, but people who rely on contact lenses are especially prone to complications from the dry air of fall and winter. Contact lenses can restrict airflow to the eye, limiting oxygen. Without a steady and unhindered flow of oxygen, eyes work harder to develop enough tears to lubricate the eye and keep it comfortable. 

Another chronic and progressive medical issue stemming from prolonged contact lens use is contact lens intolerance (CLI). CLI is when the body begins to reject the presence of contact lenses sitting against the eye – simply put, the eye can no longer tolerate these foreign bodies. The eye makes this known through a series of progressively worsening symptoms. Many of these symptoms are exacerbated by dry winter air, so if you’re a contact lens wearer who is suddenly experiencing increased discomfort during winter, you should  ask your eye doctor about contact lens intolerance. 


Common symptoms of CLI are: 

  • eye dryness, scratchiness, or itchiness
  • irritated, uncomfortable eyes while wearing contact lenses
  • red eyes
  • irritation or inflammation of the eyes
  • pain, stinging, or other discomfort when trying to apply contact lenses
  • corneal abrasions or ulcers
  • finding yourself rationing time spent in contact lenses
  • increased reliance on wetting drops for eye lubrication
  • relying on glasses with increased frequency


If these symptoms describe your recent experiences with contact lenses, please take the CLI self-test at the button below for a fast assessment of your CLI risk. 


button to take the CLI self test

CLI is a condition that worsens over time if contact lenses continue to be used. When the sufferer reaches the point at which contact lenses can no longer be worn without pain, they must either make the choice to resort back to glasses (no thank you fog!) or treat CLI by removing the need for contacts – with a refractive vision correction procedure like LASIK.


How to Keep Eyes Moist in Winter

Now that we’ve outlined the ocular risks of dry winter air, let’s go over how to combat those. The most important thing is to keep the eyes moistened.

Important winter tips to prevent dry, irritated eyes:

  • Stay hydrated throughout the winter with extra fluids – remember that when it comes to water, you have to drink more than you think!
  • If possible, use a humidifier to increase the level of humidity in your home or office during the day while you’re awake and your eyes are open.
  • Blink mindfully, and more often.
  • Don’t forget the shades! Wear UV-protectant sunglasses whenever you spend time outdoors, even in winter. This barrier will help protect your eyes from the drying effects of frigid winter winds. Also, snow reflects UV rays, so blocking those are important too.
  • Limit time spent in extreme cold.
  • Consider a LASIK consultation like Kugler Vision’s VisionTrack assessment. If you’re reliant on contact lenses during the winter, you are more likely to experience dryness and discomfort. Consider treating the need for contact lenses at the source by correcting your vision with LASIK.

Keep Eyes Comfortable and Contact-Free

Don’t let dry air and contact lens problems get you down this winter. Contact the Kugler Vision team. We’ve been voted #1 Best of Omaha LASIK providers for four years in a row, and we want you to experience the Kugler Vision difference too.

If you mention this article when you speak with our team, you’ll save $20 on your VisionTrack LASIK assessment appointment fee!

For crisp, clear vision and the fresh start that LASIK provides, call us at 402-558-2211 or reserve your spot with our easy online booking now. We hope to see you soon!

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