How Seasons Affect Your Eyes
Each day can bring subtle or drastic changes in the weather and our environment. We should be aware of the various effects the change in seasons can have on our bodies and especially our eyes. Your eyes and vision need proper care throughout the year. While the winter and summer months by far pose the harshest risk to your eyes and vision, the transitional months in between with their often unstable conditions and changes in temperature, also can be a source of vision disruption and concern.
These milder seasons are great times to be outside—unless you are prone to allergies and the resulting swollen and inflamed eyes. Spring and fall both generate pollen and other allergens that can make your eyes become red and feel watery and itchy—even if you don’t experience the sniffles, sneezing, or wheezing that are the hallmarks of seasonal allergies. Many people don’t realize they have allergies because they associate allergies with nasal symptoms.
The greatest allergy-season eye health risk is allergic conjunctivitis, a common, inflammatory response that can be triggered when your body works overtime to purge the pollen. The result is similar to pink eye without being contagious: burning, redness, itchiness, and puffy morning eyes. Applying a cold cloth to your eyes in the morning can reduce puffiness. Ask your eye doctor if allergy medicine with an antihistamine might relieve your symptoms and consider using eye drops to keep your eyes moist throughout the day.
When outside, use wraparound sunglasses or safety glasses, which cover more of your eye area to better block out irritants. Both high and low temperatures can hurt your eyes. Some people find during freezing temperatures that their eyes sting, dry out, and even freeze since most of the moisture in the air freezes and coalesces around other objects. For others, their eyes become watery when the temperature is freezing, and they may even swell up due to the constriction of the blood vessels in your eyes.
The effects of high temperatures on your eyes are mostly indirect. For instance, a high amount of pollen in the air. Being exposed to some sunlight is good for your eyes, but there is evidence that prolonged exposure to high temperatures increases the risk of cataracts. To lessen the effects of high temperatures on your eyes, stay hydrated and in air-conditioned areas if humidity in those areas is well regulated.
If you sense changes in your vision, remember that it could be the result of a change in seasons. Contact a Rocky Mountain Eye Center location to set up an appointment to address these concerns.