Dr. Ritika Sachdev of Center for Sight gives insight on winter care of your eyes
Do you think you need to think only about take care of your eyes and protecting them from the sunlight in summers? Wrong, says Dr. Ritika Sachdev, Additional Director of Center for Sight and adds, “Our eyes can just as easily get affected by a slew of factors in winters as well.”
“Whether you’re working in the office, on a winter vacation or just cozying up by the fire, it is essential to take good care of your vision by following some winter eye care guidelines for ensuring the health of your eyes”, says Dr. Ritika. In an exclusive interview given to The Indian.News Editor, Jayashankar Menon, Dr. Ritika Sachdev speaks about the winter guidelines to be followed to protect the eyes. Excerpts:
TIN: What are the basic precautions we need to take to protect our eyes during winter?
DRS: Keeping our eyes lubricated and wearing sunglasses for UV protection, Viral Keratitis prevention, skin moisturising, protecting our eyes from smog formation and the need to stay warm athe basic precautions we need to take.
TIN: Can you elaborate on these two aspects?
DRS: Keeping our eyes lubricated is the first precaution we need to take. Dry winter air can cause our eyes to be more sensitive.
The use of fire or heaters in closed areas leads to drying out the moisture in the air leading to irritation and increased dryness in the eyes.
We should try to avoid sitting too close to the heaters and use lubricating eye drops to keep the eyes moist. The second aspect is wearing sunglasses for UV protection. It is a common notion that sun rays cause damage to eyes in summer and in winters not much eye care is required.
On the contrary, ultraviolet rays can enter our eyes from above and are also reflected off the snow into our eyes leading to double the amount of UV exposure than normal and can also lead to inflammation of cornea. Excessive UV exposure can also lead to formation of cataracts. Therefore, wearing UV protective sunglasses and a hat when outdoors also protects us from direct contact with dry and cold air in the eyes. Kids should also be made to wear goggles with straps for full protection from cold air and flying debris getting in their eyes while running or playing.
The third aspect is Viral Keratitis. It is a condition where inflammation occurs in the eye’s cornea. Researches have indicated that recurrence of Viral Keratitis is more common in winter months suggesting that low temperature can be one of the risk factors of recurring Viral Keratitis. To avoid or prevent keratitis, we should not touch our eyes frequently or with unwashed hands, especailly those who use contact lens. For them, they need to use daily disposable contact lenses and a good lens solution as well.
Skin moisturising is the fourth aspect. The cold days of winter bring uncomfortable dryness and itchiness to the skin of the face and particularly the eyelids. In some cases, it may lead to cracked, flaked skin and skin inflammation. Sitting indoors with heaters and humidifies on also increases this tendency of the skin to dry. As weather changes, we should also change our skin routine and keep our skin well moisturised with an oil based moisturiser suited for our skin condition. The oil based moisturiser creates a protective layer on our skin and retains more moisture than your regular moisturiser. We can use a lotion with moisturising properties as well as high SPF for additional UV protection as well.
Smog formation due to air pollution is another aspect we need to be wary of. Besides that the fog in winters causes the dust and harmful particulate matter to enter our eyes making them dry and causing redness and irritation.Frequent blinking and keeping eyes moist by using lubricating eye drops is a good way to relieve the symptoms.
The fifth and last, but not the least aspect is staying warm and Keeping well. Usually in winter time, our immune system is down and it can lead to frequent falling ill like common cold and fever. Only solution is to keep ourselves warm and well covered in proper woollen clothes. It is essential to cover our head and ears to avoid catching cold or getting a headache or earache. If you are experiencing particularly uncomfortable dry eye, redness or irritation in the eye, contact your ophthalmologist immediately. If we take all these precautions, we can take care of our eyes, at the same time enjoy the winter chill.