The team at an opticans in Warrington is advising local residents on how to protect their eyes from the harsh effects of icy winter winds and central heating which often leave eyes feeling gritty, dry and bloodshot.

As the cold weather sets in, it can be a particularly uncomfortable time for many. Geoff Smith, Specsavers director at the store on Sankey Street, is offering a few helpful facts and tips which will help prevent eye soreness this winter.

Stop the spread of bacteria

Many people suffer from the common cold and flu, especially at this time of year. These are respiratory infections and can inflame your conjunctiva – the clear membrane covering the whites of your eyes, leaving them feeling irritated. By washing your hands before touching your eyes, you can help prevent cross infection from bacteria in coughs and sneezes.

The winter is also an ideal time to get your eyes tested as poor light conditions can make you susceptible to eyestrain.

Geoff Smith said: ‘It may surprise many but, even though it is winter, sunglasses are still 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.’

Helpful hints to reduce eye irritation

Reducing the setting on your central heating, avoiding car heaters, especially at face level, and sitting further away from direct heat such as gas or electric heaters are just a couple of ways to reduce the irritation of dry eyes this winter. Dehydration can also worsen the gritty sensation and dryness we sometimes experience in our eyes at this time of year.

Geoff Smith 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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