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Healthy eyes in the winter

Healthy eyes in the winter

The eyes don't have an easy time of it in the winter: the low sun, frosty winds and drying central heating all put them under stress. A few tips give them what they need to stay healthy during the cold weather.

When the thermometer drops below zero, our immune system comes under attack. To help prevent colds, we need to: wrap up warm, drink lots of tea and take vitamins. Despite taking all these preventative measures, one important human organ is frequently forgotten - the eye. The cold temperatures are particularly challenging for our eyes, which are directly exposed to various environmental influences. The lens and cornea suffer hugely from being subjected to the constant change from cold outside temperatures to drying central heating. It is also important not to underestimate the UV radiation from the winter sun.

Caution with the winter sun

Snowy winter landscapes tempt nature lovers into the fresh air. Whether enjoying a simple walk or active winter sport - appropriate sun protection for the eyes is essential. The intensity of the sun's rays increases with increasing altitude in the mountains. Good sunglasses also protect the eyes from frosty draughts on the descent. Lack of appropriate protection can cause an inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva. In the long term the damaging UV rays can cause even more damage: the lens goes cloudy and vision deteriorates.

A walk in lowland areas holds no fewer dangers: exposure of the eyes to UV rays over a prolonged period of time with no protection results in demonstrable damage. They are particularly vulnerable in snow, which reflects up to 95 per cent of light. Sunglasses with broad UV protection provide optimum protection. It is important to have adequate protection at the sides and an accurately fitting frame to protect the eyes from solar radiation from all angles.

Protect and pamper stressed eyes

There are various ways to protect the eyes from the general challenges of the winter months. In many cases regular ventilation can help. A bowl of water on top of the radiator increases the air humidity.  Draughts should be avoided as they irritate the surface of the eye and reduce the level of moisture. Unbalanced strains are poison to stressed eyes: rather than staring at the computer screen for hours on end, it's important to take regular breaks.

If your customers have a tendency towards dry, reddened eyes, a few simple tips can help. As it's impossible to completely avoid cold winds and drying central heating at cold times of the year, giving a helping hand to tear production can be beneficial. Conscious blinking encourages the production of lacrimal fluid and moisturises the sensitive cornea. Moist compresses bring welcome relief: dip two clean cloths or cotton wool balls in warm water or lukewarm tea, place on closed eyes for ten minutes - and relax.

So these tricks didn't work? Then artificial tears can soothe irritated eyes. High to low viscosity drops with a similar composition to tears replace the inadequate protective film on the eyes without causing side effects. They are available from chemists without prescription. However if the eyes remain chronically irritated and dry, a visit to the optician will be needed.

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