While some people may worship sun, sand, and beaches, you’d trade all of that away in exchange for a day on the slopes. Winter’s your season – the snow is fresh, there’s always a mug of hot cocoa to enjoy, and there’s nothing better than cozying up in a warm sweater.
Before you start making the most of winter, however, it’s important to be aware of one of the biggest dangers to your eyesight this winter…Snow blindness.
What is Snow Blindness?
Snow blindness – also known as photokeratits – is a painful, potentially severe eye condition that occurs when your eyes come into contact with UV rays. The reason why this condition became known as snow blindness is because UV rays bounce off the surface of snow, thus increasing the strength of the UV rays. When these rays hit your eyes, they burn the surface layer of the cornea.
Snow blindness can also refer to what happens when your eyes are exposed to too much cold, dry air. The cornea’s surface can freeze when in contact with cold, dry air for too long, making it difficult to see until moisture levels return to normal.
Snow blindness symptoms include the following:
- Difficulty seeing
- Blurry vision
- Temporary vision loss
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyelid twitching
- Halo vision
When someone is exposed to snow blindness for too long, they’re more likely to experience severe versions of the above symptoms.
Treatment for Snow Blindness
If you have any of the above symptoms and are seeking relief from snow blindness, the following actions may help:
- Remove contact lenses as soon as possible
- Use dry eye drops or artificial tears
- Place a cold washcloth over your eyes
In some cases, you may need to seek out treatment from an ophthalmologist. He or she can prescribe eyedrop antibiotics and pain relievers to help you manage and treat the symptoms of snow blindness.
To prevent this condition from occurring, ensure that you’re wearing sunglasses with UV ray protection, or snow goggles with similar UV ray protection.
If you suspect your vision has been impacted by snow blindness, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, Virginia. Dr. Griffiths can help diagnose snow blindness, as well as provide you with treatment for relief.
NewView Eye Center also serves the greater Washington, DC areas. Call 703-834-9777 to learn more.