It’s snowing! How the sun reflects off the snow and can cause damage to your eyes.

In case you thought that just because it’s winter and the sun rays are no more harmful so you do not need to wear sunglasses for your eye care then you could not be more wrong. There might be some cases in winter where proper eye care is equally, if not less, important as it is in summer. One of these cases is when you are participating in winter sports, especially those in which snow is involved. 

You might have noticed that whenever you take part in winter sports such as skiing or snowmobiling, you feel irritation in your eyes after some time or you get teary-eyed, this is because of a condition that is known as snow blindness.

Snow blindness occurs when the front of your eye, cornea and conjunctiva, gets sunburned because your eyes have been exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun for too long. What happens is that when the ultraviolet rays of the sun reach earth and come in contact with ice and snow, they reflect off and hit your eyes, hence causing snow blindness. Now, the thing is that you are already being hit by the ultraviolet light, the rays reaching your eyes directly from the sun, and then when there are also added rays from the snow or ice, you are getting hit by these harmful rays twice at the same instant. Moreover, the higher the altitude, the stronger the ultraviolet rays. 

Some of the common symptoms of snow blindness are pain or irritation in your eyes, misty eyes, hazy vision, and headache. However, the problem is that, as it happens in sunburns, you do not start feeling these symptoms at once. It’s only hours later, when your body is starting to heal itself and is creating inflammation that these symptoms start appearing. In extreme cases, snow blindness can also lead to you temporary losing your vision. 

Now that we are well aware of how the sun rays can damage our eyes in the snow through snow blindness, it is time to learn about the prevention and the treatment of this condition. One of the most common and effective ways of preventing snow blindness to happen is by wearing sunglasses that come with polarized lenses and hence give you 100% protection from the ultraviolet rays as well as help in reducing the glare from the snow. If you can find good Goggles, like snow goggles and glacier goggles, then that’s even better because they are also going to protect your eyes from other foreign bodies that might be harmful. 

The treatment of snow blindness mainly involves using lubricating or anti-inflammatory drops, at the recommendation of someone who has specialized knowledge of optometry, and keeping your eyes closed. As soon as you start feeling the symptoms of snow blindness, get yourself out of that environment and find a dark room so that your eyes can rest. In case that’s not possible then immediately cover your eyes with a dark cloth. 

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