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4 Tips to Protect Your Eyes in the Winter

Expert Chats

Mass. Eye and Ear Ophthalmologist Ryan Vasan, MD, offers four ways to protect your eyes this winter.

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, winter can be harsh on your eyes.

“During the winter, we spend a lot more time indoors with the heat on, and the humidity levels both inside and outside can decrease,” explains Ryan Vasan, MD, an ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. “We can end up with dry skin, mouth, nose and eyes.”

Outside, the low humidity coupled with cold gusts of wind can cause your tears to evaporate quicker. “Your brain gets a little signal from your eyes saying, ‘Hey, we’re dry over here, so let’s send more tears’ and, all of a sudden, your eyes start flushing with water,” he says.

Both dry, irritated eyes and watering eyes can be annoying and uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help prevent them:

  • Use lubricating drops, such as artificial tears. Over-the-counter medications with a preservative can be used up to four times a day. Contact lens wearers should look for preservative-free drops or drops labeled for use by contact lens wearers.
  • Place a humidifier in your bedroom. “It’s the place where you spend a lot of time,” Dr. Vasan says. “If you increase humidity in just one place effectively, you’ll get a big benefit.”
  • Blink more often. Blinking provides moisture to your eyes. We tend to blink about half as frequently when we’re concentrating (watching TV or staring at a computer screen), so taking breaks is recommended.
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors. “Bigger is better because it will help limit your exposure to the cold, windy air,” Dr. Vasan says. He also recommends choosing sunglasses that offer 100 percent ultraviolet protection and have polarized lenses, which help reduce glare from snow or water.

About our expert

Dr. Ryan Vasan is an ophthalmologist at Mass. Eye and Ear who specializes in cataracts and dry eye. He sees patients at two locations: Longwood (800 Huntington Avenue) and Stoneham (1 Montvale Avenue).

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