As the icy winter weather sets in, it can be a truly uncomfortable time for many. So Specsavers in St Helens is advising residents how to protect their eyes from the harsh effects of cold winds and central heating which can leave eyes feeling gritty, bloodshot and dry.

On hand to reveal some helpful tips and facts to help prevent eye soreness this winter, is Tom Lowry, store director at St Helens Specsavers on Bridge Street.

Prevent the spread of infection

At this time of year many people suffer from the common cold and flu. As respiratory infections, they can inflame your conjunctiva – the clear membrane covering the whites of your eyes, leaving them feeling irritated. You can help prevent cross infection from bacteria in coughs and sneezes by washing your hands before touching your eyes.The winter is also an ideal time to get your eyes tested as poor light conditions can make you susceptible to eyestrain.

Tom Lowry said: ‘It may surprise many but, even though it is winter, sunglasses are still very handy. 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.’

Ways to reduce dry eyes

The gritty sensation and dryness we sometimes experience in our eyes during the winter months can be worsened by dehydration. Reducing the setting on your central heating, avoiding car heaters, especially at face level, and sitting away from direct heat such as gas or electric heaters are just a few ways of reducing the irritation of dry eyes this winter. 

Tom Lowry added: ‘While we all enjoy a hot drink at this time of year, 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 not seem to make sense but it’s actually a vital contribution to the oil content of the tears.’

Everyone should get their eyes tested once every two years, or sooner if you are experiencing problems.

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