As the seasons begin to change and temperatures around much of the country begin to drop, it's time to start thinking about how colder weather impacts your eye care needs. Wearing glasses or contacts during the fall and winter as opposed to spring and summer may not seem any different, but there are several things to keep in mind that will help you make the most of your corrective vision needs.
• Wearing contact lenses in the cold
• Contact lens freezing
• Recommendations for winter glasses
• Glasses and fog prevention
• Eye safety during cold and flu season
Contact Lenses and Cold Weather
Extreme temperatures can have a significant impact on your health and wellness — including your eyes. In addition to dealing with snow flurries and freezing temperatures, cold weather can also impact your contact lenses' comfort level. Think of your contacts as an extension of your eyeballs. Just like your eyes can become dry and irritated, so can your contact lenses. Harsh winter conditions such as wind, extreme cold, snow, and rain can cause irritation and dryness.
Another issue that causes many people difficulty during the winter months is the increased use of indoor heating elements. When your HVAC unit or a fireplace heats the air in your home or office, the air becomes incredibly dry. Dry air can wreak havoc on your eyes, causing you to rub or itch them, leading to even more damage. Fortunately, we have several tips and tricks you can use to keep your eyes hydrated and safe from the elements this fall and winter.
• Find the right contacts for your needs. Although this seems like something obvious, it's essential to communicate with your eye doctor to find the best pair of contacts for your eyes. If you experience bad seasonal allergies, already struggle with dry eyes, or are outdoors more than usual during the fall and winter, let your eye doctor know during your exam so they can adjust their prescription choice if necessary. Often eye care professionals can recommend a brand that features added moisture or prescribe you daily disposable contacts.
• Use a humidifier. A humidifier is a device that increases the amount of moisture in the air, also known as humidity. Although commercial spaces often install humidifiers into the HVAC systems in their buildings, smaller appliances that sit on a bedside table or the floor are available for home use. Purchasing a humidifier to add moisture to the air can dramatically increase the comfort level of your eyes. However, be sure to keep humidity levels between 30 and 40 percent indoors. Otherwise, you subject yourself to an increased risk of mold and bacteria.
• Use eye drops. Lubricating eye drops are available specifically for people who wear contacts and are a good choice for those who experience dry or scratchy eyes, especially during the fall and winter. Ask your eye doctor for their recommendation that will work best with your prescription.
• Avoid direct heat. When the weather is cold, many people turn to personal heaters or other means to keep themselves warm and cozy indoors. To help prevent your eyes from becoming too dry, avoid close exposure to fireplaces, stoves, ovens, radiators, furnace vents, and direct heat from car vents and personal heaters.
• Hydrate. It's essential to keep your entire body hydrated to keep your eyes moist. Drinking adequate amounts of water can help further lubricate your eyes and prevent increased dryness.
• Use protective eyewear. There's no reason why you can't wear your contact lenses when enjoying some of the exciting activities that fall and winter have to offer. However, it's vital to protect yourself adequately and your eyes when outside. Using protective eyewear such as UV-resistant sunglasses or goggles can protect your eyes and surrounding skin from the wind, cold, and ice while still allowing you to have fun.
• Wear glasses more frequently. Although companies manufacture their contact lenses with added moisture, your eyes can still experience dryness during colder weather. If you're continually experiencing feelings of dryness and discomfort, contact your eye doctor for their recommendation. The worst-case scenario could mean opting for your glasses instead of your contacts for a few days until you can see your eye doctor.
Can Contact Lenses Freeze?
One of the most common questions regarding contact lens care in colder months is whether your contact lenses can freeze. The short answer to this question is yes; contact lenses can freeze, but thankfully not while you're wearing them. In the 1980s, scientists conducted several experiments to ensure that contact lenses wouldn't damage your eyes or freeze in your eyes when exposed to extreme cold. The temperature of your body will keep your eyes warm enough that although the rest of your body may feel like you're a snowman, your eyes will stay safe.
What about when your contact lenses aren't in your eyes? If you ordered new contact lenses online and they sat in your mailbox all day during a snowstorm, you may open them up to find that they're a bit chillier than you expected. In some cases, the packages of contact lenses and the added solution may even be frozen. Thankfully, your contact lenses are protected from damage by the saline solution in the packaging. To defrost your contact lenses, place them inside where it's room temperature, and wait. Under no circumstances should you attempt to speed up the process by placing your contacts in the microwave, adding warm water to them, or heating the package or contacts with a hairdryer or other device. These techniques will not only damage the lenses but can also cause permanent damage to your eyes if you wear compromised lenses.
Can Contact Lens Solution Freeze?
In the case of bottles of contact lens solution, freezing is more of a concern, especially if it has already been opened. One of the main reasons that new contact lenses freezing is less concerning than the solution itself is that the new lenses packaging solution is untouched. For bottles of solution, freezing can cause frost within the container and ultimately spoil the liquid. Extreme cold can also lower the effectiveness of contact lens solution, so if you're using a bottle that has already been open to clean and store your contacts, the solution may not remove build-up as effectively, which can lead to an increased risk of irritation and infections.
Recommendations for Winter Glasses
Whether you wear glasses full-time or only occasionally, having the best glasses or sunglasses for fall and winter is vital for fashion and your health and safety. Glasses are an excellent option for giving your eyes a break from contact lenses, but are also fashionable, can block wind, dust, and debris from your eyes, and add additional UV protection.
Glasses for Occasional Wear
If you experience dry eyes during the fall or winter, having a backup pair of glasses to swap out for your contact lenses a few times a week can be beneficial. While many contact lenses brands feature added hydration benefits, the lack of humidity, wind, and other cold weather conditions can be too much for your eyes' comfort. If you're not used to rotating glasses into your eyewear routine, here are a few tips to try:
• Wear glasses in the evening. If you prefer your look with contacts rather than glasses, try changing into your glasses after arriving home for the day. Wearing glasses at night can help give your eyes a much-needed break from contacts while still allowing you to maintain your preferred appearance during the day.
• Choose glasses over contacts for screen time. If you have a day of the week that you experience more screen time, wearing glasses can be a good choice for working on a computer screen or tablet for long periods. When choosing glasses for screen time, make sure to include a blue light coating to minimize eye strain and fatigue. You can add a blue light coating to your prescription glasses or select a non-prescription option with the coating as well. We recommend having a pair of both — one to wear with contacts and the other for your prescription glasses.
• Purchase prescription sunglasses. Sunglasses are essential because they protect against the sun's harmful UV rays. Even when it's cloudy outside, you're still at risk of damage from the sun. Adding a pair of prescription sunglasses to your collection is an easy way to give your eyes a break from contacts while still looking fashionable and protecting your eyes from the sun.
• Select clear glasses frames. If you're not a fan of glasses from a fashion point of view, choosing clear glasses frames is a great way to correct your vision without drawing too much attention to your new look. Clear glasses frames are also becoming more popular as a fashion trend, so now is a great time to find a pair you like!
How to Prevent Glasses From Fogging Up
When the outside temperatures drop during the fall and winter, your glasses are more susceptible to fog and condensation. Foggy glasses occur when you move between extreme temperatures, such as when you're inside your warm and cozy home or office, and then have to walk out into the cold outside.
Unfortunately, foggy glasses can be more than annoying; If you're not careful, they can also be dangerous. Foggy glasses are one reason why some people prefer to wear contacts rather than glasses in the fall and winter. However, there are plenty of easy ways to keep your glasses clean and clear.
• Use a professional anti-fog product. Many companies produce sprays, wipes, and gels specifically for preventing fog on your glasses during temperature transitions. You can purchase these products over the counter at your local eye doctor and various chain stores, pharmacies, and web retailers. Fog prevention products work by creating a barrier on both sides of the lenses that block condensation from forming. Applying an anti-fog product is easy and usually requires you to spray or apply the product to both sides of your lenses, allow them to dry, and then wipe clean with a dry, soft cloth. Be sure to check the required application process on any product you purchase for the best results.
• Invest in a fog-prevention coating. Many eye doctors offer a coating that they can apply to your glasses to prevent them from attracting condensation regardless of the temperature. If you work in a location where you're frequently exposed to varying temperatures or are tired of applying fog prevention products to your lenses, a permanent treatment may be a good choice.
• Try household remedies. You can use various household items to create a barrier on your lenses that will prevent them from fogging up. If you're in a bind, try blotting a very thin layer of shaving cream or soap on both sides of your lenses. Once the product dries, gently remove the residue with a soft and dry cloth.
In addition to various lens treatments and home solutions, make sure that you're doing what you can to prevent your glasses from fogging up accidentally. If you usually store your glasses in your car, try keeping them inside instead. When you're nice and warm, putting on cold glasses creates an even bigger temperature variance and will almost guarantee a nice layer of condensation. Also, check the airflow of your clothing and accessories. Scarves and other clothing items can block the natural flow of air and instead push it up towards your glasses. Avoid this by pushing your scarf or jacket under your chin or unbuttoning your coat to create an easier airflow pattern that will bypass your glasses.
Winter Eye Safety
Although fall and winter bring many of our favorite sports, beautiful autumn landscapes, and snowcapped treetops, these seasons also tend to coincide with cold and flu season. Cold and flu viruses can make your life a nightmare, and it's best to avoid them if at all possible. If you're not careful, it's possible that wearing contact lenses can increase your likelihood of catching one of these viruses.
Experts believe that the cold and flu viruses spread through droplets expelled into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. These droplets are then inhaled into the lungs of people nearby. It's also possible for a person to contract the flu or a cold by touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth without thinking. Wearing contacts means you're likely touching your eyes more frequently, increasing your likelihood of catching a virus. Following these preventative tips can help keep you safe from sickness this fall and winter if you wear contacts.
• Wash your hands. Although this seems like common sense, there are so many things that we touch daily without realizing that they may be contaminated by a virus. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with warm water and anti-bacterial soap. If you're unable to wash your hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a safe alternative.
• Avoid sharing cups, plates, or utensils. Especially during cold and flu season, sharing cups and other items can increase your risk of coming down with something. Also, make sure to wash towels and washcloths daily and avoid sharing these items with others.
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Using a bleach solution or other cleaning products to disinfect surfaces frequently touched is essential to preventing viruses. Make sure to clean doorknobs, kitchen counters, desks, sinks, and other surfaces.
• Monitor eye infections. Unfortunately, another unfriendly visitor during the fall and winter is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. This infection can be bacterial, viral, or allergic, and causes itchy or burning eyes, discharge, swollen eyelids, a gritty feeling in your eyes, and a pink discoloration. If you believe you may have conjunctivitis, remove your contact lenses and contact your eye doctor immediately. Be sure to thoroughly sanitize any make-up and applicators, especially mascara, that may have come into contact with your eyes.
WebEyeCare’s Vision Services
WebEyeCare is an authorized retailer of all your favorite contact lens and glasses brands. You'll enjoy 100% authentic lenses and frames with the lowest price guaranteed. With fall and winter just around the corner, don't forget to stock up on your contacts, glasses, and sunglasses to keep your eyes looking and feeling their best. Explore the WebEyeCare website to see all the fantastic brands and fashionable styles!