What is Snow Blindness?

Snow blindness is like sunburn for your eyes.

Snow blindness is like sunburn for your eyes.

Did you know that spending a day outside in winter could be worse on your eyes than a day at the beach?  Snow can reflect up to 85% of UV rays from the sun.  UV reflection from snow, streets and vehicles can cause glare, impair vision and damage the eyes.  Studies show that UV exposure contributes to cataracts and increases the risk of macular degeneration.  Excessive exposure to reflected light on the snow can also damage the cornea and conjunctiva and cause photokeratitis, more commonly known as snow “blindness.”

Think of photokeratitis like a sunburn to the eyes.  Symptoms include increased watering, pain, light sensitivity and the feeling like there is sand in your eyes.  Treatment includes artificial tears, cool compresses and pain medication.  Typically, symptoms resolve anywhere within a few days to a week.

UV protection, specifically polarized sunglasses, is the best preventative measure to combat glare and prevent UV damage to the eyes.  Polarized sunglasses are better than regular sunglasses because they contain a special filter that blocks reflected light, which, in turn, reduces glare.  Ask your eye doctor about prescription polarized sunglasses or non-prescription polarized sunglasses if you wear contact lenses.

From the eye doctors, opticians and staff at Rinkov Eyecare Centers. We’ve provided comprehensive eye exams, contact lenses, eyeglasses, sunglasses and medical treatment of eye disease such as cataract treatment in Columbus, Ohio, for over 35 years. Come see an optometrist at one of our Columbus locations – Downtown, West, East, Westerville, Dublin, Bexley, Worthington and Nationwide Plaza. 

Dry Eyes and Winter Weather

shutterstock_190186787

Winter is officially here, and some individuals may already be plagued by dry eyes. In fact, many people with dry eye will find that the symptoms get worse this time of year. The cold, low humidity air dries the eyes out when going outdoors, and inside, heaters trap us in a dry environment day and night. Even our car heaters can exacerbate dry eyes. Contact lens wearers generally experience more discomfort than those without contacts.

Symptoms of dryness include watering, burning, irritation and redness. While these symptoms can be resolved, if left untreated, they can turn into a chronic condition known as dry eye syndrome.

There are multiple things you can do to combat dry eyes in the winter. Using artificial tears prior to going into conditions that will dry out your eyes can greatly reduce symptoms. However, exercise caution when using over-the-counter tears: some only mask the symptoms and can lead to more irritation issues later. Check with your eye care professional to find out which artificial tear works best for you. In addition to artificial tears, humidifiers can help restore moisture in the air inside your home and work. By combating dryness in the air, you will give your eyes some relief. Finally, sun protection or googles can prevent cold air, snow and other particles from irritating the eyes.

If these tips don’t adequately control the dryness, your eye doctor can discuss other treatment options that may be available to you. You don’t have to suffer with dry eye this winter—come see your Rinkov Eyecare optometrists today!

From the eye doctors, opticians and staff at Rinkov Eyecare Centers. We’ve provided comprehensive eye exams, contact lenses, eyeglasses, sunglasses and medical treatment of eye disease such as cataract treatment in Columbus, Ohio, for over 35 years. Come see an optometrist at one of our Columbus locations – Downtown, West, East, Westerville, Dublin, Bexley, Worthington and Nationwide Plaza. 

CARE : 20|20 : LIFE®

*this advice is general in nature and does not constitute an exam. For specific advice, see your eye doctor or healthcare professional.*