Don’t leave your eyes and ears out in the cold

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Aimee Alpersleuin, Hearing Dept, Cruises Street, Limerick with Roo Kolli Picture Brendan Gleeson

COLD weather can make a huge impact on our mood and our bodies – including our eyes and ears. 
If you’re out for a wintery walk you may find that your eyes feel dry or begin to water or that your ears start to ache.
However, the experts at Specsavers explain what you can do to make things more comfortable.  
Specsavers Ireland optician and chairman, Kerril Hickey, says: “Dry eyes are very common in the winter months. The cold temperatures, dry air and windy conditions outdoors – combined with the dry air indoors from our central heating – can cause our eyes to become drier as tears evaporate from the eye’s surface. 
“This can leave them feeling sore, scratchy and gritty. It also isn’t uncommon for vision to become slightly blurred and in some cases, eyes can even become more watery. 
“Usually, glands in your eyelids secrete an oily substance that slows the evaporation of tears between blinks. When these glands don’t function properly, you may get dry patches on your eyes – known as dry eye syndrome. The patches become sore, and extra tears are produced as a reflex. This is the most likely cause of watery eyes. 
“While it may sound counter intuitive, lubricating eye drops are usually the best way to treat watery eyes as a result of dry eye syndrome. It is also best to avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms. If you have persistent watery eyes it is always make an appointment to see your optometrist.” 
Other things that might help alleviate symptoms when indoors is placing a bowl of water underneath your radiator to try to add a bit of humidity back into the air.
It is also important to be aware of how much time you’re spending looking at screens. Always follow the 20:20:20 rule where you look up from your screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 
When it comes to our ears and hearing, Orla Walsh, Specsavers Ireland audiologist, shares her top tips. 
She says: “As our ears don’t have the same level of fat as elsewhere in the body it means they are less protected in the cold and can leave the nerves in the ears exposed and quite painful.  
“Cold weather can also trigger conditions such as tinnitus due to changes in our circulation due to the lower temperature. Others may experience ear infections, not because of the cold weather itself but because we’re more susceptible to infection during this time of year. 
“The best thing to do is to try and cover your ears with a hat or scarf when you go outside to keep them warm. Hearing aid users may also find that there is more condensation on their devices than usual so make sure you do your best to keep them clean and dry.”