As we transition into winter, there are factors to consider to ensure your vision isn’t negatively affected by changes in your routine or changes in the weather. You may not even realize it, but shorter days and colder weather can put stresses on your eyes that you can avoid by using night glasses and considering eye protection. FYidoctors has some advice on how to protect your eyes and start your winter feeling prepared for the changes to come.
This is a common assumption many people think when daylight savings ends. While you do technically add an extra hour to your night, the fall back can be just as taxing on your body as the spring forward. That one hour change in our internal clocks is enough to reset our 24-hour cycle. Changes in the amount of light we receive each day modifies our natural time cues – light is signaled to our brains through our eyes letting us know when it is time to be active and when it is time to rest. For example, light prevents the secretion of melatonin, a substance vital for sleep. Therefore, the fall back may cause you to wake up earlier than normal with the rising of the sun, or because your circadian rhythms haven’t adjusted.
A disturbance in sleep patterns is always an annoyance, but lack of sleep can cause lapses in attention, and even be harmful to your vision health. We recommend getting at the very least five hours of sleep to properly rest your eyes. These hours are critical in order to rest your eye muscles and reach the full potential of your vision. In the first week of the fall back, try getting into a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time, in order to reset your clock. If the change in time means you’re falling asleep too early – try to stay awake by talking to a friend or family member, listening to music or reading a book until your sleep time gets back to normal. If you’re waking up at the crack of dawn, try shutting your blinds to block sunlight, or use eye masks to block out light in the early hours.
With evening coming earlier than you’re used to, it’s likely you will be driving more at night in the winter. Night driving comes with unique hazards, with reduced visibility being a major concern. Driving in the dark exposes you to glare where you aren’t used it. For example, on the road, in oncoming headlights, and off street signs.
FYidoctors offers anti-glare glasses or DriveSafe lenses that have an anti-reflective coating for this very issue, so you don’t have to worry if the sun goes down before you get home from work. Get these anti-glare glasses in our specially crafted line of frames, Sacori. Also consider keeping lights inside the car at a minimum to prevent distractions and increase your ability to focus on the road.
Winter sports are a terrific way to get exercise in the colder months. Skiing, snowboarding, skating, and snowshoeing are popular pastimes, but come with the dreaded snow glare and increased exposure to UV rays. Snow can reflect 85 to 90% of the sun’s rays, and if you’re at a higher elevation (skiing down a mountain perhaps) there are less particles in the air to deflect and absorb UV light. You may wonder if the sun can damage you eyes and the answer is a definitive yes. There is the danger of photokeratitis, a sunburn on the cornea and whites of the eyes. UV rays can damage the surface cells of the eye, which cause them to die and shed. If you feel a dry and burning feeling and are sensitive to bright light, this might be a sign of photokeratitis.
The good news is, snow glare is easily preventable! UV protective sunglasses or prescriptions glasses with a UV coating provide excellent protection against winter UV rays. Wraparound sunglasses are a great option as well, supplying coverage at every angle. Or try polarized glasses, which specifically target and reduce glare. FYidoctors has all of these options in a wide range of styles and prices. At some locations, FYidoctors can even order you prescription goggles with UV protection, for all your mountain sport needs.
Winter may be the most difficult season to adjust to, but with these simple tips eye protection can be one less thing to worry about. Keep in mind the potential hazards this season and protect your eyes with the proper eyewear and self care. Visit an FYidoctors near you today for our recommendation for seasonal eyewear.
Dr Frédéric Marchand, optométriste