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Winter has come to town, and with it frigid temperatures. Our first reaction is to put on the big puffy coats, warm winter scarves and hats, and gloves that keep us from typing on our cell phones. Forget about how our hair looks during the winter! But what do we do to protect our eyes and eyewear? Here are some tips to help you during this cold Chicago winter.

1. Wear your sunglasses!

When it is warm and sunny, we wear our sunglasses all the time. What happens? Why don’t we wear sunglasses during the winter? We know that sunglasses help to protect our eyes from harmful ultra-violet rays and their damaging effects. During winter months, reflective UV radiation increases up to 85% because of the snow and ice. If you are a skier, UV radiation exposure increases significantly at higher elevations. Our exposure to wind and harsh weather conditions also increases dry eye issues, causes intense pain, and can even cause temporary blindness known as snow blindness.

Good quality sunglasses offer 100% UV protection for UVA, B & C including back-side anti-reflective coatings with additional protection from reflective UV radiation. Sunglasses should also be large enough to cover your eyelids. If you are a winter sport enthusiast, consider a good pair of sport sunglasses that offer peripheral protection and are designed to protect your eyes against the wind. Vuarnet offers 94% infra-red absorption protecting your eyes from irritating dryness and heat. Sport sunglasses like many styles from Maui Jim are designed to be lightweight and impact resistant. For example, Maui Jim offers a lens material called Mauibrilliant which is one-third the weight of glass with almost the same clarity.

All of these factors prove a good pair of sunglasses is an essential part of your wardrobe in any season.

2. Take extra care to clean your eyewear properly.

During winter months we are exposed to differing moisture levels in the air, extreme precipitation, and blowing salt or sand. If you wear eyewear, you know that your lenses fog up more during extreme low temperatures. This means that we clean our lenses more often, and sometimes we tend to use our wool gloves or whatever we can find at that moment. Remember to keep extra eyewear cleaning cloths around for this purpose inside your coat pocket, eyeglass case, ski bag, and car, etc. If you need more cleaning cloths, visit us and we will provide you with a couple of extras.

Don’t forget about your frames as well. Salt and moisture can collect on the hinges and screws of your frame and, over time, corrode these parts if left unattended. Finishes and plating on your frame can also be affected. Utilize lukewarm tap water and a non-abrasive dish soap to wash your frame after long-term exposure to outside elements. Avoid moisturizing soaps or ones that have additional chemical additives. Dawn Original Formula is a good recommendation. Washing your frames weekly with this method is a good habit.

Never expose your lenses or frames to extreme temperature changes. Fogged lenses are annoying, but resist the urge to run them under hot water, or place them under the hand dryer. The quick temperature change can cause crazing in prescription lenses and cracks or discoloring in frames. Also avoid the use of alcohol (including lens wipes with high alcohol content) at any time. Alcohol can cause hairline fractures in some materials, and remove finishes on some frame materials. Avoid DYI remedies to stop fogging lenses. Although these may work on glass sun lenses and goggles, the use of household products can cause damage your prescription lenses. Ask us about Opti-fog coatings instead.

3. Keep your eyes hydrated.

During winter months, our eyes become extremely dry. All the things we love about winter can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Curling up next to a cozy fire can expose our eyes to smoke. Heaters and fireplaces also draw moisture out of the air often leading to very dry eyes. Just as you keep the moisturizer ready for your skin, keep good lubricating eye drops handy.

Extreme cold can also affect the comfort of your contact lenses. The eyes natural process of preventing tear evaporation is slowed by the cold. As a result, your eyes become very dry causing contact lens discomfort. Although contact lenses are safe to wear in the cold, wearing sunglasses and utilizing lubricating eyedrops approved for contact lenses will reduce discomfort during the winter months.

Our EFP Opticians are experts at finding the perfect frames for your lifestyle. Stop in today, and let us make sure you have the sun protection your eyes deserve.



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