While spring and summer give us days full of sunlight and warm weather, fall and winter bring shorter days and cold nights. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a common type of depression due to chemical changes in our brains. It can occur at certain times of the year, usually during the months when there is less sunlight. While SAD primarily affects mood and mental health, it can also impact our eyes and overall eye health.

The Link Between SAD and Eye Health

The connection between SAD and eye health lies in light’s role in regulating our body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm helps regulate various bodily functions, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, and mood. Exposure to natural sunlight helps keep our circadian rhythm in sync.

During fall and winter, shorter daylight hours can disrupt our circadian rhythm and lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms. But what impact does this have on eye health?

Our eyes play a crucial role in detecting light and transmitting signals to the brain that help regulate our circadian rhythm. When we are exposed to less natural light, it can disrupt this process and affect our overall eye health.

Impact on Eye Health

One common symptom experienced by individuals with SAD is dry eyes. Reduced tear production can occur due to decreased blinking or more time indoors with artificial lighting. Dry eyes can cause discomfort, redness, blurred vision, and even damage to the cornea if left untreated.

In addition to dry eyes, SAD can contribute to other eye conditions, such as eye strain and sensitivity to light. Spending long hours indoors with artificial lighting or staring at screens for extended periods can strain your eyes and lead to headaches, blurred vision, or difficulty focusing.

Alleviate SAD Symptoms for Better Eye Health

Experiencing symptoms of SAD can make an impact on your daily life. Here are some strategies you can try:

  1. Get Outside: Spending time outside or near a window can help alleviate symptoms, even if it’s cloudy. Natural light helps regulate your circadian rhythm and supports overall eye health.
  2. Light Therapy: Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box that emits bright light similar to natural sunlight, which helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
  3. Blink Frequently: When spending long hours indoors or working on screens, remember to blink frequently to keep your eyes lubricated and prevent dryness.
  4. Use Artificial Tears: If you’re experiencing dry eyes, talk to your eye care professionals about using over-the-counter artificial tears to relieve and moisturize your eyes.
  5. Take Breaks from Screens: Give your eyes regular breaks by following the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to help reduce eye strain and fatigue.

Remember, if you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options. By managing SAD and prioritizing your eye health, you can minimize the impact of seasonal affective disorder on your mood and vision.

Interested in More Eye Care Tips?

Proper eye health starts with you! If you haven’t yet scheduled your next eye exam, contact Vistar Eye Center to book an appointment today. If you’re interested in learning more about your eye health, you can find many helpful tips and ideas to boost your ocular health.