Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays pass through cloud cover. Like sunburns in winter, few people expect UV-related eye injuries in winter—but the odds are good that you’re as much at risk for eye damage during the holiday season as you are in the heat of July. You need winter eye protection as much as you need summer shades.

With that in mind, read on to learn how you can stay safe this winter with a few small purchases!

#1: Keep a Pair of Sunglasses in Your Glovebox

Preferably with UV-protection lenses! Here’s the deal: a day in the snow exposes your eyes to as much UV radiation as a day at the beach. The difference is that at the beach, you know you should wear glasses. Every winter, thousands of people throughout New Jersey put their long-term eye health at risk because they think cloudy skies or shorter days will protect them.

The truth is, photokeratitis (or snowblindness, as most people know it) worsens your chances for avoiding cataracts. It increases the odds of macular degeneration later in life—the most common cause of blindness in senior citizens.

The good news? Just wearing sunglasses while driving or hanging out in the snow is enough to protect your eyesight. Even better—a nice pair of shades could pull together your winter “look” pretty nicely.

#2: Stay Indoors as Winter Dies Down

Winter is just starting up, but the worst time for UV exposure in winter will be in February and March 2018. As the days lengthen and the temperature picks up, people will spend more time outdoors—however, the UV exposure during these milder days is just as harmful as a summer day.

The worst hours for UV exposure is from 10 am to 3 pm in late winter/early spring, so try to plan your day around that time block.

#3: Keep Eyedrops Handy

Now, the current forecast for winter in New Jersey is fairly wet—we’re about to get higher-than-average precipitation and snow. So why keep eyedrops handy? Because while it’ll be wet outside, you’ll most likely be inside while the heater is running. Extended heater use creates a warm, dry climate—the perfect conditions for drying out your eyes.

If you already have “dry eye” or wear contacts, the effect will be even worse. To avoid burning or itchiness in your eyes this winter, get in the habit of moisturizing your eyes as often as you feel the need.

#4: Buy a Warm Humidifier

Extended heater use can lower the humidity of your home. Like we mentioned above, that’s an issue for dry eyes—but if you want a better solution than just using eyedrops, consider getting a humidifier. A humidifier could offset the effects of running a heater all season long, allowing your eyes to stay protected while the rest of you stays warm.

The root problem is that your eye is protected by a thin, moist film. When the temperature rises and humidity drops, water evaporates quicker—including the water in your eye’s protective film. This is what causes a burning, itching sensation.

There you have it—4 straightforward, easy ways to protect your eyesight this winter. If you’re interested in getting your vision checked out, call Dr. Barry Wasserman’s office at (877) 598-3937 today.

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