Now the clocks have changed, we're all having to adjust to it getting dark mid-afternoon again, and more wintery conditions that can impact our eyesight.
In this blog we’ll look at how to address the common causes of eye strain, to help fully protect your eyes this winter.
What are the common causes of eye strain during the winter months?
Harmful UV rays
Although you may not think it, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can be equally as harmful, if not more so, in the winter than during the summer, due to the sun's position at a lower angle in the sky.
UV rays can damage parts of your eye, including the lens and cornea. It can also cause vision-related headaches, especially when the rays are at their strongest (between 10am and 3pm). Too much exposure to UV rays can also cause cataracts, macular degeneration and increase your risk of skin cancer, especially for delicate areas of skin, like your eyelids.
In the winter, you’ll not only get glare from the low sun, but also other wintery weather conditions, like snow, ice and water and wet road surfaces. UV rays are especially harmful in the snow, as 80% of the sun’s UV rays will be reflected back into your eyes. This can impact your vision and cause discomfort.
Unfortunately, glare is a notorious cause of motoring accidents, as glare from the roads, combined with the low sun, can make it difficult to see and focus on the road.
As well as the bright sun which can make it hard to see when driving, the darker afternoons and evenings mean dazzling headlights, traffic lights and street lamps can become a problem, making things blurry and harder to see.
Although you might not suspect it, wind can cause dry or streaming eyes during the winter. Transitioning from cold windy weather outside, to inside with the heating on, can also exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
In winter, you may have more difficulty seeing clearly because 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.
Our habits change in the winter: with the darker days and colder weather, more time is often spent indoors on screens, which increases our exposure to artificial blue light – a common cause of digital eye strain.
What can be done to help?
Wearing polarised sunglasses
Although grabbing your sunnies isn't the first thing you might think of on a clear crisp winter’s morning, it’s just as important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare in the winter, as it is in the summer.
Polarised sunglasses have a special filter embedded into the lens that blocks out reflected light to improve clarity, reduce glare and prevent common side effects, such as vision-related headaches.
They are especially useful for people who are more sensitive to light, with eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and uveitis (a type of eye inflammation). Wearing wraparound style sunglasses, or bigger lenses, will also minimise UV light coming in from the sides.
We absolutely love the Maui Jim HT (High Transmission) lens, which is a grey-green coloured lens and uses an advanced polarising filter to shield your eyes from glare and harmful UV.
The lighter lens colour is ideal for overcast days and low light, when you’re not sure whether it’s bright enough to wear sunglasses or not. The lenses have a bi-gradient mirror and an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare and offers 100% UV protection, as well as protection from high energy visible light (HEV) which is damaging to your eyes.
In addition, the lenses are scratch resistant, with oleophobic and hydrophobic lens coatings, meaning they are oil and water resistant, easy to clean and will stay clearer for longer.
Please remember that although polarised lenses help to reduce glare while driving, they shouldn’t be used at night, as they block light, making it harder to see hazards, such as icy patches on the road.
Crizal Drive is a unique lens coating to help enhance your vision and is designed specifically with driving in mind.
The coating offers up to 90% less reflection compared to ordinary lenses, which helps to combat glare and is crucial for driving in low light, or at night.
Crizal Drive offers an E-SPF rating of 25, protecting your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, and resists scratches and smudges, repels dust and water, giving you optimal clear vision and comes with a two year scratch-free guarantee.
Essilor’s Road Pilot lens is also hugely popular with customers, which reduces glare and provides high resolution vision over the entire surface of the lens.
By enhancing colour and depth perception, visual details become clearer, making it easier to see in lower light conditions and react to changes on the road. It’s ideal for frequent driving, as it offers up to 90% less reflections and minimises astigmatisms, giving users optimal precision.
Transition lenses are designed to be clear for indoor use and automatically darken when exposed to sunlight or UV light. This unique design is convenient for people who wear glasses full time, providing excellent protection on overcast days and may eliminate the need for sunglasses.
This particular lens delivers 100% UV protection when they are both clear and dark, reducing your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration in later life. They also offer blue light protection, a common cause of digital eye strain that is emitted from computer screens and other digital devices.
Transition lenses come in a variety of shades, colours and lens designs, including bifocals, and multifocals, and can easily be coated with anti-reflective coatings to reduce glare and improve vision for driving at night.
Our trained dispensing opticians are here to help find the right solution for your eyes this winter. Book a free consultation at your local branch today.