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Six Tips To Protect Your Eyes During The 2019 Polar Vortex

Chicago (CBS) -- As the Chicago area experiences record-breaking low temperatures and dangerous wind chills during the polar vortex, eye care is critical.

According to Dr. Joanna Slusky, optometrist and owner of Halsted Eye Boutique, the decreased humidity associated with extreme cold -- combined with the plunging wind chill -- can dry out the surface of the eye. Additionally, the reflection from snow can burn the front of the eye, causing pain or blurry vision. People may not even be aware that damage is occurring, Slusky told CBS 2.

Eye Care In Extreme Cold
(Credit: Lindsay Cogan)

To keep your eyes safe, Dr. Slusky shared the following six tips:

  1. If you need to go outside, wear big UV blocking sunglasses, which will act as a shield. Put on ski goggles if you have them, as they provide protection and trap warmth inside.
  2. Stay hydrated. When heaters are on and it's windy outside, eyes will dry out faster.
  3. When driving, use the visor and get polarized sunglasses to cut out the extra glare.
  4. If you must wear correction, wear glasses rather than contacts, which can dry out quickly.
  5. Rehydrate your eyes by putting a warm compress over them for a few minutes.
  6. Pain, blurry vision, light sensitivity, or watery eyes can indicate the surface of the eye has been damaged from the cold or glare of snow. If you notice these symptoms, seek help from an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Dr. Slusky recommends wearing UV protection for the eyes when outside, even when it's overcast. "Think of sunglasses as sunscreen for the eyes," she said.

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