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Wearing contact lenses in the winter

Summer is a popular time for trying out contact lenses, as they work well with sunglasses. But people often worry that their eyes won’t cope with wearing contacts during the colder months. So, we thought we’d shed some light on these myths and answer some of your questions about wearing lenses this winter.

Will contact lenses give me dry eyes in the winter?

Cosy fireplaceContact lens wearers often suffer from dry eyes, particularly in the colder months. This is usually caused by the environment, such as harsh weather or dry indoor conditions created by heating.

Cold and windy weather wreaks havoc on your eyes, but central heating and cosy fireplaces can often make things worse. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to give your eyes some TLC this winter:

  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
  • Use eye drops or artificial tears
  • Make sure you keep hydrated
  • Take a break from your lenses and wear your glasses
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Can contact lenses freeze?

Frozen snowflakes

Contact lenses won’t freeze, even in conditions as cold as -60°C (phew!). 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 in cold winter weather, but this can be solved by using eye drops or artificial tears. If you experience extreme discomfort, get in touch with your optician.

Can I get sunburned eyes?

Person skiingIn short - yes. Sunglasses aren’t only important in summer – they’re useful in winter too. If you’re planning any winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding, remember to bring a pair of sunglasses or UV-deflecting goggles. Even though it might be overcast, harmful UV rays can still affect your eyes. Snow can actually reflect these rays and cause as much damage as if you were sunbathing in 40° heat!

Harmful UV rays can cause immense damage to your eyes, which can lead to photokeratitis. This is when the top layers of your cornea are damaged. Symptoms of photokeratitis include: pain and discomfort, swelling, light sensitivity, headaches, tearing and blurriness, small pupils, distorted colours and even temporary loss of vision. It can take a few days for them to heal, but it usually clears up on its own. During this time, you must stop wearing contact lenses. Your optician will be able to give you treatment to ease the pain while your eyes heal.

Can I wear contact lenses if I’m sick?

Man with tissue

Contact lenses shouldn’t be worn if you’re suffering from a cold, especially if your eyes have been affected (puffiness, redness, etc.). Not only is there a danger of falling asleep with your contact lenses in (you should be getting rest!), but you run the risk of transferring the infection to your eyes when inserting or removing your contacts.

Should I be wearing glasses in the winter?

While we love contact lenses, it’s important to give your eyes a break and wear your glasses every now and then. But glasses become even more inconvenient in the winter months, as they insist on steaming up at every opportunity. We’d suggest buying anti-fog/water-repellent wipes or spray, so you can prevent your glasses from steaming up.

Winter eye care essentials

Our eyes have a lot to contend with in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for discomfort. Keeping your eyes healthy and moist during the colder months is made easy with Johnson & Johnson’s range of eye care products.

Blink refreshing eye mistGentle enough to be used every day, Blink-N-Clean Eye Drops give an instant boost to your eye's natural moisture, leaving them feeling fresh and revitalised, all without the hassle of removing your contact lenses. 

Struggle to apply eye drops? Blink Refreshing Eye Mist is the perfect solution.

Article originally posted in February 2019. It has since been updated.