Winter Care Tips for Contact Lens Wearers
The wintertime presents unique challenges to those who wear contact lenses. Although it may be snowing to beat the band with the ground covered in a thick blanket of the white stuff, cold winter air is actually extremely dry. And when you go indoors things can get even worse. That’s because the artificially heated air is often drier than that cold air blowing in from the north. As you might have guessed already all this cold dry air can wreak havoc with your eyes and cause strains in the relationship between your eyes and your contacts. Below, we’ll provide some tips to improve the experience of wearing contacts in the wintertime.
Tip 1: Start With the Right Contacts
It’s a good idea to visit your eye doctor before the winter sets in just to make sure your contact lens prescription is up to date. There’s a chance the condition of your eyes has changed during the course of the year and you may need adjustments to your prescription. Wearing mismatched contacts can serve to make any winter-related problems worse than they have to be.
Tip 2: Use a Humidifier
You can’t do much about the dry air outdoors but you do have some control over how dry the air gets in your home. Lots of folks love to crank the heat during the winter. And while that’s understandable, cranking the heat also means cranking up the dry air. Using a humidifier is an easy way to alleviate the dry air being produced by your furnace or electric radiators. Keeping the air in your home moist will help improve the relationship between your eyes and your contacts.
Tip 3: Wear Sunglasses
Most people don’t associate the winter with dangerous levels of sunshine but if you wear contacts you shouldn’t assume winter sun doesn’t present its own unique challenges. When snow covers the ground sunlight reflects off of it and can cause a phenomenon well-known to skiers and mountain climbers called “snow blindness”. Even if things don’t get to the point where your eyes are swollen shut the reflected UV rays can still cause irritation and eye strain that can have a negative effect on the eye/contacts relationship. Wearing sunglasses can help prevent this and prevent cold winds from drying out your eyes as well.
Tip 4: Drink More Water
People also tend to drink less water in the winter. The thinking seems to be that, since they don’t sweat as much during the winter as they do during the summer, there’s no need to drink water all the time. But while that seems reasonable enough the fact is that, as we’ve already discussed, winter air is drier than summer air. And dry air has the unfortunate habit of sucking the moisture out of your body, including your eyes. To counteract this phenomenon it’s wise to drink just as much water during the winter as you do during the summertime. Try it. You’ll feel the difference in your energy levels, mood and in the relationship between your eyes and your contacts.
Tip 6: Take a Break from Your Contacts
Regardless of the time of year, it’s important to give your eyes a break from your contact lenses. This is especially true however in the winter when the irritating effects of cold, dry air only make matters worse. As a general rule, you should consider wearing glasses a minimum of one day a week during the cold weather months. Or try wearing your contacts to work and taking them out as soon as you get home. Contact lenses, as convenient as they are, dry your eyes out a bit all by themselves and in the winter this drying effect is magnified. If they get too dry the lenses can actually begin to lose their shape and perhaps become cloudy. Taking them out on a regular basis can help alleviate any irritation and prevent problems with the lenses themselves.
Tip 7: Give Your Eyes a Break
Eye strain among people who work with computers is an all too common problem that transcends seasonal limitations. That said, during the winter, when the indoor air in homes and businesses is typically drier than it is during the summer, digital eye strain becomes an even more pressing concern. Staring at the computer screen in a dry, artificially heated environment can amplify the drying effect the contacts naturally have on your eyes (see Tip 6), which only makes eye strain more likely and more severe. It’s recommended that if you work with a computer you should follow what is known as the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.
Tip 8: Protect Your Eyes When Skiing
There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as hitting the slopes during the wintertime. The bracing air, the spectacular views and the rush of slicing your way through fresh powder create peak experiences. For many people, it’s tempting to ramp up their immersion in the experience by foregoing goggles. Some won’t even wear sunglasses. But this is a mistake. Barreling down a mountainside in frigid dry weather without adequate eye protection is asking for trouble, especially if you wear contacts. Should you be fortunate enough to go skiing or snowboarding this winter make sure you always wear wrap-around goggles with robust UV protection. It will go a long way toward fending off issues between your eyes and your contacts.
Tip 9: Stick to Your Schedule
Many people who wear contacts often get complacent over time and stray from the recommended replacement schedule. This can be a particularly problematic thing to do during the winter months when it’s important to make every effort to optimize the relationship between your eyes and your contacts. If you’ve gotten out of the habit of changing your contacts according to the recommended schedule now’s the time to get back in the swing of things. Fresh daily contact lenses will conduct oxygen better while reducing irritation from cold dry air and increasing the overall comfort level of the contacts.