Specsavers St Anne’s advise local residents on how to protect their eyes from the harsh effects of icy winds and central heating which often leave eyes feeling bloodshot, dry and gritty.

The winter period can be an uncomfortable for many so Edwin Shield, store director at St Anne’s Specsavers in St Anne's Road West, is offering a few helpful tips and facts which will help prevent eye soreness.

Sitting away from direct heat such as gas or electric heaters, reducing the setting on your central heating, avoiding car heaters, especially at face level, are just a handful of ways to help reduce the irritation of dry eyes in winter. The gritty feeling and dryness we sometimes experienced in our eyes can also be made worse by dehydration.

Edwin said: ‘While many enjoy a hot drink at this time of year, it is good advice to cut back on the coffee and drink more water. Additionally, using eye drops can add extra lubrication to dry eyes. The term ‘dry eye’ is used when the oil content of the tears doesn’t efficiently lubricate the eye. People with dry eyes often have plenty of watery tears so adding eye drops may seem to not make sense but it’s actually a vital contribution to the oil content of the tears.’

At this time of year many people suffer from the flu and common cold. As respiratory infections, they can inflame your conjunctiva – the clear membrane covering the whites of your eyes, leaving them feeling irritated. You can help stop cross infection from bacteria in coughs and sneezes by washing your hands before touching your eyes.

Edwin added: ‘It may surprise many but, even though it is winter, sunglasses are still handy to have to hand. The sun is low in the sky at this time of year and can be uncomfortably bright for drivers. Sunglasses give the added protection against ultraviolet radiation and can help reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. The snow will be here soon too and will reflect more UV radiation so remember your sunglasses after snowfall or on skiing holidays.’

This time of year is ideal to get your eyes tested as poor light conditions can make you susceptible to eyestrain. Everyone should get their eyes tested once every two years, or sooner if you are experiencing problems.

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