Eye health: 6 Reasons why winter plays havoc your eyes

Rob Hobson examines how good diet and balanced nutrition are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract and dry eye later in lif…
winter eye health

A new season will bring different challenges to your eye health, with spring and summer bringing sunshine UV rays, and let’s not forget hay fever, which can cause itchy, burning eyes, redness, watering of the eye and puffiness around the eyelids. Plus, don’t discount the air conditioning too for those who were lucky to have it this summer it may have caused dry eyes by reducing humidity.

But what about autumn and winter?

Winter sunshine

While it may not be the biggest problem in the UK, UV light can be eight times stronger because of the way it reflects off the snow or ice, hitting your eyes from below as well as from above.

The solution: Wearing sunglasses can help!

Central heating

While the opposite of air conditioning in summer; central heating can cause similar problems of dry and itchy eyes.

The solution: Turning the heating down slightly or opening the windows for a few times regularly to circulate the air can stop your eyes drying out. Moisturising eye drops can also help especially those with Euphrasia and Hyaluronic Acid such as A .Vogel’s  Extra Moisturising, (10ml,  £13.50) or Boots own brand.

Eye health and screen time

During the colder months, it’s easier to spend more time indoors watching television, on our phones or computers. But, using a screen all day at work and then more screen time when you come home means your eyes can feel the strain. Research shows we blink less using a computer, close reading or using any blue screen from a tablet or TV.

Optometrist, Ian White, says: “Nearly 80% of the population are using computers, mobile phones and staring intently at some sort of screen or device for more than three hours a day. This Tech Age has taken a toll on our eyesight.”

The solution: Try the 20/20/20 rule: work for 20 minutes then look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Also, taking up some physical activity such as a brisk daily walk, can help reduce the risk of sight loss caused by high blood pressure and diabetes.

Driving at night

Driving can be more difficult during winter with the long winter nights, this is because your pupils dilate in darkness, your depth of vision decreases, and things look blurrier.

The solution: Be extra vigilant when driving at night and reduce your speed.

Colds and flu

Alongside the normal symptoms of feeling bunged up, sneezing, headache, sore throat and temperature, your eyes can become watery, feel sore, itchy and irritated.

The solution: Keeping well hydrated with plenty fluids with honey and lemon, up your intake of omega 3 foods like oily fish, flaxseeds and eggs. Also, consider taking a specifically formulated eye health supplement such as Healthspan’s OptiVision, 1 month supply, £15.45, which has 20mg lutein and 200ug zeaxanthin from natural marigold source, vegan omega 3 and added vitamin B2 and zinc.

Resist the urge to rub them and splash them with cold water or apply a cold compress and hold it over your eyes for a few minutes.

Comfort food

In summer, we tend to eat more hydrating salads and seasonal fruit, whereas in winter we tend to crave starchy ‘comfort’ foods. We still need fruit and vegetables for optimum eye health. The antioxidant nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are beneficial and even help slow the progression of some degenerative eye conditions like AMD.

A Healthspan OptiVision survey of 2000 adults, found that just 34% consider carrots a good item for eyes, 31% said the same for tomatoes, with eggs (23%), sweetcorn (21%) and sweet potatoes (20%) coming further down the list of the vegetables many were unaware could help look after their eyes.

Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition, says: “We know foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are good for eye health and these nutrients are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract and dry eye later in life.”

Food rich in lutein include leafy green vegetables, corn, peppers and egg yolks.

If you found Eye health: 6 Reasons why winter plays havoc your eyes useful, you’ll find more expert tips for eye care on our eye health in later life channel.

Tags: , Last modified: September 30, 2022

Written by 10:43 am Eye health in later life, Health