Our winter survival guide for your eyes

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Felicity Mann
Health Advisor
@AVogelUK
Ask Felicity


10 September 2018

Support your immune system

Winter is here and while some might view it as the season of goodwill, it’s also undoubtedly the season of sniffles and sneezes. The chances are your immune system could be feeling a bit worse for wear, making you susceptible to all kinds of bugs and viruses. Since your immune system is also responsible for protecting your eyes, it makes sense that a weak immune system could leave you vulnerable to eye infections like conjunctivitis

In fact, as I discuss in my blog, ‘How to avoid conjunctivitis this winter,’ the type of virus that causes conjunctivitis, adenovirus, is also responsible for the common cold! That’s why supporting your immune system during this tricky time is so important. I’d definitely recommend taking a look at our Immune System Expert, Dr Jen Tan’s advice for boosting your immune function over at A.Vogel Talks Immune System.

In the meantime, you could try enhancing your immune system by trying our Echinaforce Echinacea Tablets or Drops. These contain Echinacea, which has traditionally been used to support a healthy immune system. Echinaforce doesn’t just come as a tablet – you can find Echinacea in our Hot Drink and Sore Throat Spray too! 

Get plenty of vitamin D

Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient for your immune system but vitamin D deficiencies do remain very common here in the UK, especially during the darker winter months. When it comes to your eyes, not only can vitamin D help by bolstering your immunity, it also works to combat free-radical damage, a major cause of age-related vision problems. 

Studies have even found that low levels of vitamin D could be associated with dry symptoms as the vitamin helps to regulate your inflammatory responses.1 It’s even been linked to AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration, as one study which looked at nearly 8000 volunteers found that those with AMD often had lower blood levels of vitamin D, implying the nutrient may help to prevent the onset of the condition.2 

However, further study is still needed so don’t go assuming vitamin D is going to cure all your AMD woes! Nevertheless, boosting your intake during winter may have some positive repercussions. The NHS recommends a daily supplement of 10mcg during autumn and winter and I would try to avoid stepping over this guideline. As our Nutritionist Emma discusses in her blog ‘Are you getting too much vitamin D?’ over-supplementing can be just as dangerous as not getting enough!

Try to avoid direct heat

Unless you happen to be local to Australia, December often spells weeks of dreary grey skies accompanied by rain showers and the odd burst of hail. The temperature drops and naturally, you might start to crank your central heating up in an effort to keep the cold at bay. There’s nothing wrong with this but, if you’re spending hours sat next to the radiator, you may notice that your eyes start to become drier and more prone to irritation.

This is because heat can cause the tear film around your eyes to evaporate, leaving them dry and more susceptible to irritants. So, if you have to use the central heating this winter, or are lucky enough to have a real log fire, think carefully about where you’re sitting! It might also even be worth investing in a humidifier to help get some moisture back into the air around you so your house doesn’t become a trap for hot, dry air. 

Don’t abandon your sunglasses

The chances are you probably packed your sunglasses away back in September – after all, you’re not likely to need them during winter right? Wrong! The temperature might have dropped since summer but UV radiation hasn’t gone away and neither has the sun. In fact, sunlight reflecting off snow can be even more damaging to your eyes than when it reflects off water. If you want more advice about sunglasses I’d suggest reading my blog, ‘The importance of sunglasses’ but simply put, make sure you have a pair to hand when you’re out and about and especially if you’re driving!

Keep your eyes moisturised

In winter you’re constantly transitioning from one temperature extreme to the other as you step out into the cold air and are then greeted by your central heating system when you return home. This can easily dry out your eyes, making them feel irritated, itchy or watery. It’s important that you try to replace this lost moisture which is why I’d recommend drying our Extra Moisturising Eye Drops.

These eye drops contain double the amount of hyaluronic acid compared to our traditional eye drops so they provide fast, effective relief, soothing inflammation and lubricating your eyes. This remedy is suitable even for sensitive eyes and can be used alongside contact lenses. If you want to learn more about the benefits of hyaluronic acid, please check out my blog ‘How does hyaluronic acid help your eyes?

Step away from the light

Winter, despite being a time of dark, bleak weather, is also a catalyst for light. If you’re celebrating a holiday this season, the chances are that your home is decked in multi-coloured light bulbs but, as pretty as these decorations can be, they could be hurting your eyes and increasing your susceptibility to eye strain.

In my blog ‘Could blue light be damaging your eyes?’ I go into more detail about what blue light is and how it can harm your eyes so I’d recommend reading this blog if you want more detail about the type of light that might be kinder for your eyes.

You also have to consider that you’re more likely to be spending time in darker rooms using electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones. The contrast between the brightness of the screen and the darkness of your surroundings can place you more at risk of straining your eyes, so make sure you’re using the proper brightness settings and try to avoid spending too long in front of a screen!

Don’t forget the 20-20-20 rule

Exercising your eyes might sound like a bit of a strange concept but hear me out. If you’re spending a lot of time in front of a screen, whether it’s your tablet, smartphone or laptop, then your eyes are going to eventually become strained, particularly during winter where, as I’ve mentioned, the contrast of light and dark can be a problem.

That’s why I’d recommend doing 20-20-20 exercises to give your eyes a quick break every now and then. The rule is simple – every 20 minutes refocus your eyes on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This should give your eyes a chance to relax and help to prevent the symptoms of eye strain such as irritation or dryness. 

Eye drops containing Euphrasia and Hyaluronic Acid

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Extra Moisturising Eye drops for very dry and irritated eyes.
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