With the holidays now in full swing, it’s not uncommon that eye doctors are seeing an increasing number of patients complaining of various eye symptoms. What patients often don’t realize is that these symptoms are frequently caused by environmental and lifestyle factors that tend to accompany the holiday season. In this piece, we’ll cover four of the most common holiday eye discomforts and how to successfully self-treat them. 

Dry Eye

If your eyes have been feeling particularly dry this holiday season, there’s a good chance it’s related to humidity levels in your home and workplace. In the greater part of the U.S., winter means much colder outside temperatures than in spring, summer, and fall, and this necessitates an almost constant use of heating to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. 

Almost all modern furnaces work by the method of forced air. This means that air is heated and then forced throughout your home or workplace via ductworks where it enters a room via the ceiling or floor vents we’re all familiar with. Though forced-air from a furnace heats a room much more quickly and efficiently than “old fashioned” radiant heat, it also strips the air of moisture. 

For some people, this lack of humidity results in dry, itchy, uncomfortable eyes. If your eyes feel dry this holiday season and you don’t have a history of dry-eye symptoms, low humidity levels in your home or office are likely the culprit. Investing in a portable humidifier can go a long way toward alleviating your symptoms, along with using wetting eye-drops to help restore lost moisture. 

If you’ve experienced dry eye symptoms before the holiday season or for any prolonged length of time, there’s likely a medical reason behind your discomfort that you should see a specialist about. At OCLI Vision, we bring advanced treatments for this troubling condition and can help chronic dry-eye sufferers find lasting relief.  

Eye Strain (“Fry Eye”)

If your eyes have been feeling unusually strained or “fried” this holiday season, there may be two easily identifiable reasons for it. The first reason may be related to the amount of time you’re spending online or in front of the TV. The second reason may be related to winter sports. We’ll cover each separately. 

Screen Time

Digital devices emit “blue light,” an unnatural kind of light than can be particularly straining to look at for extended periods of time, particularly in a dark room. During the holiday season, people’s screen time tends to increase significantly. Researchers suspect this is related to 1) increased social media engagement as people reach out more frequently to friends and family, 2) increased time spent online shopping for gifts, and 3) for those with “desk jobs,” increased time spent at work trying to wrap up important projects before the holiday break. 

If you’re experiencing digital eye strain, the best thing to do is reduce your screen time. If this isn’t possible, you can use Google Dark Mode, which darkens your screen and significantly diminishes the emission of blue light. You can also invest in a pair of prescription or non-prescription eyeglasses with “blue-blocking” lenses. 

Winter Sports  

The holiday season is also the peak season for winter sports and other outdoor activities that can result in significant and sustained eye strain. The reason for this is that winter sports are almost always accompanied by snow and ice. Snow and ice, of course, pose no particular discomfort to otherwise healthy eyes. However, add sunlight to the mix, and you end up with blinding levels of light and continuous glare. 

Even a few minutes of exposure to snow-reflected light can leave sensitive eyes feeling incredibly strained. It’s no wonder that during the holiday season that many people complain of eyestrain without putting together the reasons behind their discomfort. If you suspect your eye strain may be related to excessive light exposure, immediately invest in a pair of sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses. 

No matter the season, your eyes should be healthy, happy, and comfortable all year round. At OCLI Vision (formerly Eyecare 20/20), we offer a comprehensive suite of services and vision health providers to successfully serve all your eye care needs. From routine vision screening to advanced treatments for dry-eye and digital eyestrain to LASIK vision correction to leading-edge approaches to cataract surgery, we’re your premier eye care provider. Reach out to us today! 

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