Extreme cold is not something most Australians have to endure, but if you have been watching the news recently, America faced temperatures colder than the Arctic in a rare weather occurrence. It made us think about how cold weather affects our eyes. Maybe you have a ski holiday planned soon, or you’re going on a business trip somewhere cold. Believe it or not, our eyes are extremely resilient to the cold, but there are sensible precautions you can take to protect them.
These are the three main ways cold climates can affect your eyes:
Just as cars have heating, windshield, wipers and anti-freeze to keep your windows from freezing, your eyes have eyelashes, eyelids and salty tear drops to help us cope with freezing cold temperatures. Saltwater freezes at much colder temperatures than normal water, which is why our eyes can stay moist in sub-zero temperatures with our salty tear drops. Plus our body’s warmth helps protect us from the cold. Even with all these mechanisms, extreme cold weather can still sometimes cause the following severe symptoms:
If any of the severe conditions take place, go inside somewhere to warm up your eyes. If conditions persist, see a medical professional.
The eyes are extremely resilient, which is why when you see people out in the extreme cold it’s the only part of their body exposed. However, if you happen to find yourself in a polar vortex, look after your eyes and they will look after you.
IMPORTANT: If you are concerned about your eyes and require an urgent consultation, DO NOT use this form. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department.