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Here are some of the ways winter can affect your vision, or worsen an eye condition, and tips for prevention.

Driving in winter

In winter you may have more difficulty seeing clearly because the evenings are longer and there is not as much light as in the summer. When it is dark your pupils dilate and become larger, to let in more light, however, this results in your vision becoming more blurred. This is why you may be more reliant on your glasses at night.

The glare of a low-lying sun can also make it more difficult to see, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out. It is useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with the glare from the sun, even in winter.

Dry eyes

If you already have dry eyes, central heating may make them worse. Here are some simple steps you can take to minimise the discomfort caused by dry eyes in winter:

  • Lower the temperature in rooms when possible.
  • Blink more – many people find that their dry eye gets worse when reading or using a computer. This is because we blink less when we are doing anything that needs a lot of visual attention.
  • Use a humidifier. Opening windows for a few minutes on cold days will also help.
  • Lubricants. Ask your optometrist or pharmacist whether lubricating eye drops may be helpful for you.

The treatment for dry eyes depends upon the cause, so it is important to speak to your optometrist if your eyes feel dry.

Falls and the elderly in winter

Long dark winter nights and slippery surfaces outdoors mean that older people are more likely to fall. Take a look at our guidance on how to prevent falls indoors and outside.

Increased screen time

People tend to stay in and watch more television and spend more time using computers during the winter. Using a screen will not damage your eyes but prolonged use can make your eyes tired and dry.

Remember to take breaks and operate the 20:20:20 rule; every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. Find more top tips on looking after your eyes while using your screen.

Watery eyes

In cold and windy conditions, many people complain that their eyes water more than normal. Wearing glasses will provide protection against the wind, even if you don’t usually wear them outdoors.

Winter sun

Snow and ice are reflective, so the sun’s ultraviolet rays can reach your eyes from below as well as above – and not just when skiing. UV exposure is cumulative, so although you may not feel any immediate effects you could be putting yourself at risk of long-term damage and risk cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) if you don’t wear good quality sunglasses or goggles.

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