Does riding in the wind hurt your eyes?

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We love the wind in our faces, but the wind in your eyes can cause them to dry out, leading to itchy eyes and possibly blurred vision.

Most riders wear goggles or windproof, wrap-around sunglasses when wearing an open-face helmet.

However, the wind can also leak in through the visor of many full-face helmets and some riders even ride with their visor open and no glasses.

The constant wind in your eyes dries them out and makes them sore and itchy, says optometrist Emma Valentine.

She warns it may also jeopardise your safety since it can blur your vision.

Ageing eyes

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Emma says it’s worse for riders over 50.

“The two main reasons are a reduction in tear volume and meibomian gland dysfunction which is where the glands of the eyelids produced a reduced quantity or poorer quality of oil,” she says.

“The oil from these glands is what keeps the tears stable on the eye and stops evaporation of the tear film.

“I have seen patients with dry and inflamed eyes from wind. It typically resolves quickly with treatment such as lubricating eyes drops or anti-inflammatory eye drops in severe cases.”

Contact lenses can exacerbate dry eye, while pregnancy and menopause can lead to a lack of tears.

Eye disease

Emma says wind-burned dry eyes are also at increased risk of infection and disease.

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“Wind affects the tear film of the eye which is important for maintaining the integrity of the ocular surface” she says.

“It can make a person more susceptible to eye issues such as conjunctivitis, corneal abrasion or corneal ulcer.”

Vision advice

Emma advises riders to wear eyewear both as protection from wind and foreign bodies.

“A routine to maintain a stable tear film can also help such as lubricating eye drops before and after riding.”

It has also been suggested eating a diet in vitamin A, which is found in liver, carrots and broccoli, or low in omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and vegetable oils can cause dry eyes.

As they say, if symptoms persist, see your doctor or optometrist.

5 Comments

  1. Yet another excellent article Mark. FYI: I wear tinted dedicated ‘biker’ glasses with foam inserts that mould to your face. Not perfect but better than standard sun glasses. Available from Biker Bits at a reasonable price. At night I ride with – wait for it – clear Protector brand safety goggles available from Bunnings for $13.95. They give good vision and excellent wind protection for the eyes and at that price – how could you go wrong!

  2. I thought you should eat a diet that is high (not low) in things like Vit A and Omega 3 would be a problem … was the last half of the sentence missing perhaps?

  3. Articles where the headline can be answered with a simple Yes or No are not worth the electrons inconvenienced by clicking the link.

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