3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Eyes During Winter

This is a guest post by Andrea Pecoraro, public relations and event coordinator for the Kresge Eye Institute at Wayne State University Physician Group.

Flurries in the forecast making you feel blue about packing away your flip-flops and sassy shades? Don’t pack away those shades just yet! Your eyes need protection more than ever in the harsh winter months.

Elizabeth Hakim Yates, O.D., medical director of Kresge Eye Institute’s Well Eye Care Centers, said the winter sun is like the summer sun, but can be more harmful because the sun sits at a lower angle and may expose you to more UV rays. Snow is also reflective and can reflect up to 85 percent of the harmful UV rays to the eyes.

If you’re not careful and aren’t wearing proper eye protection you can experience “snow blindness,” which can be painful and damage the cornea for up to a week. You could even experience long-term damage such as cataracts or macular degeneration, she said.

Andrea Pecoraro

“As a result, the UV rays penetrate the eye and contribute to long-term damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, solar retinopathy, pterygiums and pingueculas,” Yates said. “The skin around the eyes can also become burned and chapped from the sun.”

Wearing goggles or protective eyewear when playing all winter sports should be a priority, Yates added. Eye injuries can occur with any sport, and sun protection and polycarbonate material will help against negative impacts and protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.

If you’re planning on going for a scenic winter drive, building a snowman or going to the extreme by barreling down a snow-covered mountain, here are three ways to protect your eyes during the winter:

  1. Make sure your sunglasses have UVA/UVB protection. If not, they aren’t protecting your eyes and you could experience “snow blindness” or other long-term effects.
  2. Most cosmetic counters sell sunscreen for around the eyes. Try out different ones and purchase the one that works best for you.
  3. When participating in any winter sport, it is highly recommended (especially for children) that your goggles are made with a polycarbonate material — a safety plastic that is impact resistant and also includes a UV and scratch coating built in for additional safety.

Before you reach for the keys on a sunny, snowy day, remember these three tips to ensure your eyes stay healthy all year long.

Let us know in the comments if you use any other methods to protect your eyes during the winter.

For More Information:

Kresge Eye Institute

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Photo by Amir Appel


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