Did you know that the cold weather can make your glaucoma worse? A study by the Devers Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon found that glaucoma is worse in the cold weather, particularly for people who are in the early stages of the disease. The more extreme the weather is, the greater the impact on glaucoma.
With fluctuating winter temperatures in New York, you may find that your symptoms are worse at this time of the year. Let’s learn more about why the cold weather makes a difference for glaucoma and the things you can do to prevent further damage.
Why Cold Weather Impacts Glaucoma
NYC’s winter weather is full of surprises. One day it can be sunny and 50 degrees, and the next day it’s snowing and 20 degrees. This drastic change in temperature can cause pressure changes in the body that have a direct effect on the eyes.
People with glaucoma have high eye pressure. Too much pressure in the eyes puts stress on the optic nerve and eventually causes vision problems, such as blindness, blind spots, and vision loss. When the northeast temperatures are extreme, as they often are in the winter, eye pressure can increase more than normal.
Another way that the cold weather affects glaucoma is secondary but still important. As the temperatures drop, many people slack on their exercise routines. It’s understandable, considering that the sidewalks are often iced over and snow is on the ground. Unfortunately, if you’re not getting enough exercise (one of the best prevention tips for glaucoma), it can cause symptoms to worsen.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Eyes
Fortunately, there are things you can do to lessen the effects of cold weather on your eyes. First and foremost, protect your eyes when going outdoors. Put on a hat that protects your head and shields your face from the winds. Wear sunglasses any time you’re outdoors, including while driving. The sun can reflect off the snow and ice, damaging your eyes.
Also, find ways to keep physically active. Even though it’s cold outdoors, you can still find ways to be active at home or at the gym. By keeping your blood pressure in check, you can lower the progression of glaucoma. If you notice that your symptoms are progressing and you’re having more problems with your vision, see your retina specialist right away.
Do you have glaucoma and you’re trying to get the disease under control? Contact Empire Retina Consultants for a consultation with our retina specialist.