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. 

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