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When the weather gets chilly, we first feel it on our body (skin) and hurriedly cover up to protect ourselves from being affected by the cold. However, our eyes can also be negatively affected by the extreme cold weather, resulting in some side effects such as-

Excess tearing/watery eyes

This means excessive production of tears from the eyes. Cold air and icy winds can cause this excessive tearing. Although this can easily be treated by wearing protective eyewear when outdoors, while indoors, one can use OTC (over-the-counter) eye drops. But if the tearing affects your vision, see your eye care provider immediately for proper examination and treatment.

Eye redness

Extreme cold weather can also make one experience eye redness and inflammation. It is usually caused by dry eyes from the colder weather. You can reduce the discomfort and inflammation by putting a cold compress over your eyes. This would help to minimise the symptoms.

Snow blindness

Also known as Photokeratitis, occurs when your eyes get sunburned due to prolonged exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light that reflects from snow and ice. This usually results in temporary eye pain and discomfort, which lasts for a couple of days. Wearing protective eyewear during winter sports, such as skiing or sledging, would help to keep your eyes from developing snow blindness. If you already have it and the symptoms seem to get worse, visit your eye doctor immediately to prevent further complications and vision loss.

Other Vision changes

Extreme cold weather can cause visual changes. For instance, low temperatures can constrict (shrink) the blood vessels in and around the eyes and this can result in eye conditions such as blurry vision and double vision. This is, however, a temporary change and your vision should normalise as soon as your environment is warmed up. Your optometrist can also recommend eye drops that would help the constricted blood vessels get back to their normal size.

It is important to protect your eyes from extreme cold weather as much as possible and also report any unusual symptoms or visual changes that you might be experiencing. Contact us for advice if you experience these or other eye challenges during cold weather.