Winter Eye-Related Health Myths Debunked

WHAT: Anyone who spends any amount of time online will find an abundance of eye-related myths, misconceptions and misinformation. Sandy T. Feldman, MD - Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego - offers some timely and factual information related to eye health and vision during the winter season ahead:

True or False? Dry eyes can be more troublesome in the winter.
True. Dry winter air and central heating can cause eyes to be more sensitive. An easy way to prevent dryness is by using a humidifier to add moisture to the air of indoor environments.

True or False? You don't need to wear sunglasses in the winter.
False. Sunshine in the winter months might not seem as bright as it does in the summer, but ultraviolet (UV) light still can affect your eyes - even on cloudy days. Eyelid skin is extremely thin and allowing too much UV light through can cause a number of eye problems, including cataracts and several kinds of cancer. Skiers and snowboarders should also be aware that UV radiation is more intense at high altitudes, and sunshine that's reflected off snow can cause a sunburn on the surface of the eye.

"We tend to protect ourselves from the sun only during the summer, but it's something to be cautious of all year long," Dr. Feldman advises. "Be sure to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV light whenever you go outside, no matter what the season, and consider mirrored sunglasses or goggles if you plan to be out in the snow."

True or False? Eyes look older in the winter.
True. Surprisingly enough, studies show that people can look as much as five years older during the winter months. Why? Circles and bags under the eyes appear significantly darker in colder months, most likely due to a lack of sunlight. Also, many of us feel more tired and lethargic in the winter due to lower levels of vitamin D, which is generated by the body only when exposed to sunlight.

True or False? Touching your eyes is an easy way to transmit viruses.
True. Most viruses are passed from person to person via respiratory droplets. Contact can occur by direct contact (such as kissing) or touching something with virus on it (such as shaking hands with someone who has the flu) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. To stay healthy this winter, do your best to keep your hands away from your face.

True or False? Allergies hibernate in the cold.
False. "Mold and dust-mite allergies in the wintertime are more common than you think," says Dr. Feldman. "Mold spores can cling to things like Christmas trees and multiply indoors. Even if you aren't allergic, these spores can still cause irritation and lead to upper respiratory or sinus infections."

True or False? If your vision is perfect, there's no need to see an eye doctor.
False. It's still important to have a professional examine your eyes on a regular basis. The eyes are the window to our body, and a comprehensive eye exam can often detect early indications of a number of non-vision-related chronic conditions and diseases.

True or False? Many health plan vision benefits renew the first of the year.
True. Renewed health plan benefits are a great way to start the New Year off right. Resolve to make your health and well being a priority for 2016, starting with booking your annual eye exam today.

True or False? Exercise can boost the health of your eyes.
True. It's easy to slack off on exercise during the cold winter months, but the health benefits of regular workouts also extend to the eyes, such as preventing macular degeneration.

WHO: Dr. Sandy Feldman is a San Diego-based leader in ophthalmology and one of the nation's top 15 Lasik eye surgeons.

CONTACT: I am happy to arrange an interview with Dr. Feldman to common myths related to eye health and vision, as well as any other eye-related topics. Please contact Diana Soltesz at [email protected] or 818-618-5634.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Sandy T. Feldman, MD is the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center - voted best LASIK center in San Diego by CityBeat magazine in 2013 - and has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. Her many honors and awards include "Top Doc San Diego" and the Goldline Award, an honor granted to only 10 laser eye care providers in the U.S. each year, and she has been profiled in Forbes, Newsweek, and other respected publications. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.