The change of season has a significant impact on your eyesight. Whether it is hot or cold, the fluctuating temperatures can hurt your eyes and cause discomfort.
Some people may feel that their eyes are dry or even sting when they are in cold or freezing temperatures since moisture in the air freezes. While others may experience watery eyes which could also swell up due to the blood vessels in your eyes being constricted. Whichever way you may be affected, it remains vital that you give your eyes the best protection against external elements.
There are four seasons that our eyesight goes through (autumn, winter, summer and spring), and all of these seasons can contribute to your eyes feeling irritated.
Here are a few ways you should protect your eyes during this time:
As we head into the colder months, you may notice that your eyes feel drier. If it is extremely windy outside, it may cause you to develop an allergic reaction or suffer from an infection due to the surrounding debris or sand that may fly into your eyes. Cold temperatures cause the blood vessels around the eyes to constrict, which can cause blurry or double vision. If you experience these symptoms, move to a warmer area.
How to protect your eyes: Ensure you wear adequate protection and keep your eyes covered when you are out. If you continuously use a heater or air conditioner in your household, you may also experience irritation in your eyes. Use a humidifier to improve the moisture in the air – this may cause less irritation. Also, use eye drops to reduce the discomfort you feel when your eyes are dry.
Exposure to sunlight is suitable for your eyes, but extended exposure can cause short and long-term damage. The sun contains UV rays which can cause damage to the eyes – increasing the risk of cataracts, eye cancer or corneal burns. Even though a cataract takes several years to form, frequent exposure to the sun without using protection can cause long-term damage to the eyes.
How to protect your eyes: Wear UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses, and always keep them nearest to you so that you do not forget them. Wear a hat when you are outside to avoid direct sunlight from entering the eye. Apply sunscreen around your eyelids and eyes as these areas are susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer.
Spring is the transitional season, between warm and colder temperatures, and the opposite is for autumn. For spring, many people call this the ‘allergy’ season due to the pollen in the air and flowers blooming. This results in allergies, and you may find yourself with swollen and inflamed eyes. All that pollen that you encounter during autumn and spring can irritate your eyes, and if you frequently wear contact lenses, it can cause a build-up on the surface of your lenses, despite you cleaning it often. Although this is uncommon, if there is an excess of build up on your lenses, it can cause different forms of conjunctivitis. This is an infection which causes your sclera turns pink, your eyelids swell, or your eyes might start producing gunk. In autumn, when the wind is picking up, the dust can cause your eyes to be red, watery and itchy, triggering the sniffles and sneezing more frequently.
How to protect your eyes: If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor at your nearest eye clinic to get the infection cleared up straight away. To alleviate the discomfort, put a cold cloth on your eyes to monitor the puffiness. Ask your eye doctor about the allergy medication they recommend, preferably with an antihistamine to relieve the symptoms. Then use eye drops during the day to keep your eyes moist.
Your eye care is essential. Taking care of damaging factors now can alleviate severe optical problems in the future.
About Dr. Sachin Bawa
Sachin Bawa is a founder of Dr. Sachin Bawa Cataract and Vision Clinic. He is a qualified ophthalmic surgeon for more than 9 years. He holds a medical degree from the University of Witswatersrand which he completed in 2004.