How the seasons affect your eyes

The mere passing of time brings about many changes in the weather and our environment. If you live somewhere in the Earth’s middle latitudes, you’ll know these changes are categorised into the four seasons — spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Traditionally, many people would orientate their whole lives around the four seasons. Today, not so much as more of us live in cities and work in offices. But nevertheless, we still have to take into account their numerous effects on our bodies and health.

Here we’re going to have a look at how the changing of the seasons affect our eyes, two of our most precious organs, to ensure we can keep them happy and functioning perfectly all year round.

Winter

The winter season affects your eyes and your body on the whole more than any other.

The cold air outside means we compensate with warmer air inside, and the two together along with the contrast can wreak havoc on everything from our sinuses and skin to our joints and our mood.

When it comes to our peepers, one of the big problems is that the cool winter air doesn’t contain enough moisture to keep them moist and from drying out. It’s therefore important to minimise the dryness in your eyes by staying well hydrated and even running a humidifier in your home to add some much-needed moisture to the air.

Another issue, more in harsher conditions and climates, is redness, tenderness, and inflammation. Here the eyelids may become swollen or the eye itself may become discoloured due to allergies or even snow blindness. If your eyes become particularly irritated, you may even be lucky enough to notice eyelid spasms and involuntary tics.

All these changes in the environment can also mean your vision suffers. Low temperatures can cause the blood vessels in and around the eyes to constrict, leading to immediate vision changes and symptoms like double vision and blurriness.

These changes are most common when you’re outside for long periods of time in temperatures well below freezing. If you notice such symptoms and that your vision changes while out in the cold, move inside to a warm area as soon as possible.

Finally, although the winter skies are often dark and gloomy, snowfall and ice create reflective surfaces that dramatically increase the amount of light. For those with sensitive eyes, you may experience discomfort, more blinking, other symptoms in bright winter light.

In such wintery environments, protect your eyes when going outdoors for long periods of time, such as when out hiking, skiing, or performing other activities, by wearing high-quality sunglasses.

Summer

Everyone knows the dangers the sun poses for your eyes. And yet still many people each year fail to heed the warnings and as a result suffer from corneal burns, cataracts, and eye cancer.

Sunlight is made up of various radiations (electromagnetic or sub-atomic particle energy). The most damaging part of which is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation is what causes much of the damage to our eyes, both from short-term and long term exposure.

Fortunately, as many of you will already know, you can take various precautions to protect your eyes from sun damage. For instance, protective goggles and hats will help keep them away from direct sunlight, whilst sunscreen will protect the delicate skin around your eyes. Of course, the best advice of all is to stay indoors if it is very sunny out.

Similarly to during the winter, our eyes can suffer from low humidity during the summer months due to the cooling of indoor environments. Humidity is the amount of water in the air at any time. It isn’t constant: like the weather, it changes all the time, but unusually low humidity can be damaging to your eyes.

Your eyes prefer a slightly wet environment, with moisture in the eye lubricating the corneas and washing out any dirt. A lack of moisture, therefore, means they can become itchy, irritated, and susceptible to damage or infections.

Air conditioning in office buildings, shopping centres, and aeroplanes are the enemies of the eyes as they often maintain low humidity. If you can’t change the environment and enjoy normal humidity levels, it’s important to make sure you regularly hydrate your eyes in other ways, the best of which is by using lubricating eye drops.

Spring & Autumn

The winter and summer months by far pose the most risk to your eyes and vision. But the transitional months in between, along with their often instable conditions and changes in temperature, can be the source of much optical disruption too.

Storms, for example, can affect your eyes in several ways. First, they may cause you to develop allergic reactions or suffer damage or infection due to debris that may be present in the air. Second, extreme wind conditions can dry out your eyes and expose you to the risks mentioned above.

The best advice to prevent storm-related eye damage is to find shelter and sit it out. Otherwise, the next best thing is to wear adequate protection and keep your eyes covered up while it passes.

Both high and low temperatures can hurt your eyes. Some people find during freezing temperatures that their eyes may sting, dry out, and even freeze since most of the moisture in the air freezes and coalesces around other objects. For others, their eyes become watery when the temperature is freezing, and they may even swell up due to the constriction of the blood vessels in your eyes.

The effects of high temperatures on your eyes are mostly indirect. For instance, a high number of pollen in the air. Being exposed to some sunlight is good for your eyes, but there is evidence to show that prolonged exposure to high temperatures increases the risk of cataracts.

To mitigate the effects of high temperatures on your eyes, take frequent sips of water to help stay hydrated. Also, stay in air-conditioned areas as long as the humidity in those areas is well regulated.

Your eyes and vision need good care all throughout the year. Find out how Laser Eye Surgery can benefit your eyes by contacting one of our clinic coordinators today.

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How the seasons affect your eyes

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