Everything you need to know about wearing contact lenses in the winter
Summer’s a popular time for opting for contact lenses, as they work well with sunglasses. However, people often worry that their eyes won’t cope with wearing contact lenses during the colder months. Here on the Vision Hub, we like to bust common myths about contact lenses, answer some of your questions, and give you some handy tips for wearing contact lenses all year round.
Will contact lenses give me dry eyes in the winter?
It’s true that contact lens wearers often suffer from dry eyes, particularly in the colder months. This is usually caused by the environment, such as the weather or dry indoor conditions created by heating.
Windy weather and dry conditions are particularly irritating for contact lenses. Wind blowing in your eyes can dry your eyes out. Escaping these conditions, and hiding indoors might not be the solution, as central heating and fireplaces can also cause dry eyes and irritation.
How to help dry eyes
- You can try to prevent dry eyes by using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Eye drops or artificial tears can be a good way to increase your comfort.
- People tend to drink less water in the winter. Make sure you keep hydrated, as this is a great natural way to prevent dry eyes.
- Take a break from your lenses and wear your glasses. Wearing contact lenses, no matter what material they are made from, is more drying than not wearing contact lenses.
Can my contact lenses freeze?
Contact lenses won’t freeze, even in conditions as cold as -60°C! Experiments were carried out in the early 1980s to test this very myth, and the materials contact lenses are made from have improved vastly since then. You might feel some drying or discomfort, but this can be solved by using eye drops or artificial tears. If you experience extreme discomfort, consult your optician.
Sunglasses aren’t only important in summer, but are useful in winter too. If you’re planning any winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, remember to don a pair of sunglasses or UV deflecting goggles. Even though it might be overcast and cold, harmful UV rays from the sun affect your eyes the whole year round. Snow can actually reflect these rays, and cause as much damage as might be experienced if you were sunbathing in 40° heat!
Harmful UV rays can cause damage to your eyes, which can lead to photokeratitis. This is when the top layers of your cornea are damaged. It can take a few days for them to heal, but usually clears up on it’s own. During this time, you must stop wearing contact lenses, to allow your eyes to heal. You should consult an optician, who will give you treatment to ease the pain while your eyes heal.
Symptoms of photokeratitis include:
- Pain and discomfort
- Light sensitivity
- Tearing and blurriness
- Small pupils
- Distorted colours
- Temporary loss of vision
Can I wear contact lenses if I’m sick?
It’s flu season! Contact lenses shouldn’t be worn if you’re suffering with a cold, especially if your eyes have been affected by illness (puffiness, redness, etc.). Not only is there a danger of falling asleep in your contact lenses (you should be getting rest!), but you run the risk of transferring infection to your eyes when inserting or removing them.
While we love contact lenses, it’s important to remember to give your eyes a break and wear your glasses every now and then. Glasses become even more inconvenient in the winter months, as they insist on steaming up at every opportunity.
By buying anti fog/water repellent wipes or spray, you can prevent your glasses from steaming up.
Anything we didn’t cover? Ask our optician in the link at the top of the page, and we’ll be happy to provide an answer!