Too Cold for Contacts?

It’s winter and even if you are lucky enough to live in a mild climate you probably have experienced the chill that comes when you leave your nice warm home and step outside into the bitter cold.

The temperatures often cause our bodies to react in a variety of ways.  Some people refer to the cold as “bone chilling” because sometimes it literally feels like it hurts to be outside in frigid temperatures.  Other times your body trembles to keep itself warm, or, in extreme cases, your fingers and lips and other small body extremities may even turn blue as a reaction to their near-frozen state.

So, what about your eyes?  What do your eyes do when they get cold? And, is it ever too cold for contact lenses?

I decided to do a little research and find out!  And, here’s what I discovered. Though it’s technically never too cold outside to wear your contact lenses, you may experience dry eye more when the temperatures outside are below freezing. This could lead to some mild contact lens discomfort.

According to a recent study, when the surface temperature of the eye and eyelids drops to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) this could cause or worsen dry eye. (This is a few degrees below the normal temperature of your eyes.)

The cold temps outside your body cause the oily substance secreted by lid glands to become too thick to spread properly onto the eye surface. This substance–called meibum– usually coats the entire surface of the eye to diminish tear evaporation and prevent dry eye.  But, when it’s cold outside, this process doesn’t happen.

So, what should you do if you love wearing your contacts but live in a region where cold temperatures are the norm?  Experts suggest keeping your eyes and eye lids warmer, of course.  One way to do this is to invest in a pair of ski or protective goggles if you’ll be outside for long periods of time.  Even a great pair of sunglasses with a tight wrap around fit could have the same effect as they protect your eyes from the cold, harsh wind.

Another great idea is to remember to drink a lot of water, to keep your eyes moist and to carry with you some high quality lens rewetting drops.  Ask your optometrist at your closest America’s Best for his or her favorite brand and for other tips on keeping your eyes comfortable in contacts this winter.

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