Sunglasses – Not Just for Summer Months
Sunshine and snow – a winning combination that brings sledding, tubing, and skiing. When you break out the snow gear and get ready to go sled riding make sure that the proper eye gear and sunglasses are on the list. Having the proper eyewear can help to reduce the chances of developing snow blindness.
Sunburn can only occur during the summer – right? Wrong. Sunburn is caused by excessive ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. The amount of the sun’s UV light that reaches us is highest over the summer months, but is still present year-round and can cause a sunburn if there’s enough exposure. This is especially true when there’s snow on the ground. Snow is very reflective, so when we are outside on a sunny winter day, we experience UV light from above and from reflected light from below. Without protective eyewear, there is potential for sun damage to your eyes.
Because the snow acts as a reflector and magnifier for UV rays that would otherwise be absorbed by the ground, the sun can be more damaging to the eyes. When that happens, your eyes and skin are open to conditions that can have long-term health consequences. Did you know according to the World Health Organization that fresh snow can reflect up to 80 percent of incident UV radiation?
Snow blindness, also known as Photokeratitis, is when the cornea becomes inflamed from exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun. The reason this condition is referred to as snow blindness is due to the reflection of the sun’s rays off of the snow.
Some symptoms of Photokeratitis include bloodshot eyes, uncontrollable eyelid twitching, eye pain, and increased tearing or watering of the eyes. Many times, these symptoms will not immediately present themselves. Like your skin becoming burned by the sun on that summer vacation at the beach, you will often begin to experience symptoms of snow blindness hours after the damage has already been done. If you find that you experience these symptoms, get out of the sunlight.
The best course of action to help speed up the recovery is to stay inside in a darker environment, cover your eyes with a cloth or material to block out light from getting to your eyes, and, most importantly, remove your contacts. Full recovery can take anywhere from 1-3 days depending on the severity of damage done. If symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical treatment to help reduce the chances of permanent damage. Repeated suffering from snow blindness can also increase your risk of permanent damage to your eyes and can reduce your ability to see.
PREVENTION! The best way to reduce the chances of suffering from snow blindness is to make sure that you have the proper sunglasses, snow goggles, or glacier goggles.
Sunglasses: If you choose to use sunglasses make sure that they have high UV protection. Wrap-around style with full eye coverage are the best to prevent light from getting around the glasses to your eyes. Also be sure to get polarized, dark, mirror-coated sunglasses for the best protection.
Glacier Goggles: Glacier goggles or glacier glasses are specifically designed for people who partake in outdoor activities that would lead to snow blindness. They are usually darker than most sunglasses or goggles and come with mirrored and polarized lenses. The glacier sunglasses often have added plastic or other material that helps to block the sun from getting around the glasses to your face.
Snow Goggles: While many snow goggles help to keep snow out of your eyes and do help block out the sunlight, most often they do not provide great protection from the sun. While we all look for the best deal and go with a cheaper product, this is one of those things that you might want to consider spending a little more to get a pair of goggles that will properly protect your eyes.
Get outside and enjoy the fresh air, but remember to keep your eyes protected.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.