Shining a light on winter’s unknown ailments
With Australia shivering in the midst of a chilly start to winter, many of us have rugged up and received winter flu and COVID vaccinations to protect ourselves against nasty viruses. However, less spoken of is winters’ effect on our eyes and oral health.
Even in winter, excessive sun exposure can lead to the development or worsening of serious eye issues such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Also, not reducing sun glare while driving can increase the risk of an automobile accident.
Bupa Optical Optometrist Karen Makin said people are less inclined to wear sunglasses during winter regardless of how sunny or glary it might be.
“During the winter months, people who drive during sunrise and sunset without sunglasses expose themselves to sun glare and reflections off rainy surfaces which can impair vision and increase your chance of having an accident. Sun glare is one of the most common causes of car accidents, but the risk can be reduced by wearing polarised sunglasses on the road.
“During the winter months, the cool weather can also dry out your eyes and make them irritable and teary which can affect your mood and ability to concentrate, particularly if you wear contact lenses. It’s important people don’t suffer through the discomfort and consult an optometrist to see what options might be available,” said Karen.
From an oral health perspective, many people also report experiencing higher levels of tooth sensitivity or jaw tightness during winter, particularly when spending time outside.
Bupa Dental Head Dentist, Dr Cathryn Madden says our mouths are more sensitive to the climate than we may think.
“When we are cold, many of us involuntarily clench our mouths or chatter our teeth, which can lead to jaw pain and headaches. Our teeth may also experience sensitivity and aches more than usual as they transition from warm to cold environments.
“Exposure to gusty cold winds and heated indoor spaces can also dry our mouth and cause bad breath, cracked lips and increase the risk of tooth decay with saliva being a natural defender against cavities and gum disease.
“Remedies like sugar-free gum or drinking more water can be effective remedies, however, it’s always best to consult your friendly local dentist if you notice any adverse changes to your mouth so you can get on top of the situation and keep your healthy smile through winter and beyond,” Dr Madden said.
To view the latest range of sunglasses available at Bupa Optical or to book an eye test visit here.
To find a Bupa Dental practice near you visit here.