Snow Blindness! Sunglasses aren’t Just for Summer

Brian Campbell

Winter may be here, but don’t put those sunglasses away just yet. In case you didn’t know it, winter can be just as hard, if not harder, on your eyes than summer. Just because the sun isn’t as warm on your skin, doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as harmful to both skin and eyes. Here are a few things you should know.

UV Radiation and Snow Blindness

In the winter months, the sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky, and you may find yourself staring directly into it, especially when driving, more than you would in the summertime. Also, all that bright, white snow is a great reflector for both sunlight and its dangerous UV rays. Prolonged exposure to reflected sunlight can burn the cornea of your eyes, causing snow blindness. The symptoms of snow blindness are often temporary, but the long term damage to your vision may be permanent.

Winter Sports and Your Eyes

But snow blindness isn’t the only concern. You need to be cautious of the same dangers to your eyes caused by UV rays, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, that you would face in the summer. Excessive exposure to UV rays on your eyelids may even lead to skin cancer. Bright sunlight reflecting off the snow can give you eyestrain related headaches. Since there is less moisture in the winter than in summer, dry, irritated eyes can also be a problem, especially if you enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities. Wrap around style sunglasses can help. Or you may want to consider ski goggles, or a similar sort of eye protection.  Whatever you get, make sure that they provide good UV protection.

Eye Protection for the Whole Family

When buying winter sunglasses, don’t forget about the kids. Children, on average, will spend more time playing outside than adults, so they are even more susceptible to the dangers of UV rays and reflected sunlight than you are. A child having fun is also less likely to notice irritated or burning eyes until it becomes so severe that it disrupts play. That is why it’s especially important to make sure that their eyes are protected. By the time your child tells you that their eyes are sore, the UV rays may have already done serious damage. You may not be able to make them keep them on, but every little bit helps. It also helps if they like their sunglasses, so get them involved in picking them out. And set a good example by wearing yours.

Healthy Eyes for the Winter and for Life

Now that you have proper eye protection, you can enjoy your winter activities, whether they are outdoor sports, or simply travelling between work and your nice, warm home. Just remember that if you do have any concerns about your eye health, get in touch with your local optometrist as soon as possible. Don’t take chances with your vision.