Snow blindness is a serious condition caused when eyes become sunburnt from overexposure to UV rays. Learn the proper methods to prevent and treat this condition.
Think sunburn is just a problem for the skin? Actually, your eyes can be damaged by the sun’s powerful UV rays as well. Just as you wear sunblock to protect your skin from overexposure to UV rays, you should wear sunglasses to prevent conditions such as photokeratitis, more commonly known as snow blindness. The name of this condition sounds rather scary and it can be very painful, but it is 100% preventable. If you’re planning an outdoor trip or you believe you’re suffering from snow blindness, contact your eye doctor in Edmonton. A professional will be able to answer any questions you might have and give you tips on how to prevent and treat snow blindness. What is Snow Blindness? In its most basic sense, snow blindness is caused by a sunburned cornea. Just as with sunburned skin, by the time you see the symptoms, you’ve already been exposed to the sun too long. Though snow blindness can impair your vision resulting in a temporary partial loss of sight, it doesn’t cause actual blindness. Snow blindness mainly results in eye pain and irritation, but can also cause all of these symptoms: · Red and burning eyes · A gritty feeling or a sensation that sand or other debris is in the eye · Light sensitivity · Watery eyes · Blurry vision · Swollen eyes and eyelids · Headaches · Glares and halos around lights Snow Blindness Can Occur Without Snow! Snow blindness is a bit of a misnomer. The term “snow blindness” gained popularity because snow is highly reflective of UV rays, reflecting more than 80% of the UV rays that fall on it. Combined with the fact that many winter outdoor activities, skiing, mountain climbing and snowboarding included, often occur at higher altitudes where UV rays are stronger, snow puts you at a great risk for snow blindness. However, snow blindness still occurs without snow. Water and white sand also reflect UV rays, making them just as dangerous. Buy Proper Sunglasses for Edmonton Summers & Edmonton Winters The easiest way to prevent snow blindness is to wear proper eye protection when outdoors for an extended period of time. Though wearing sunglasses in Edmonton is often thought of as a summertime habit, the sun can be just as strong in the winter. If you plan to be outdoors all day, no matter the season, sunglasses are a must. Not all sunglasses are created equal, so you want to be sure yours block 100% of UV rays. This will give you the best protection. If you have an entire day of skiing, hiking or other outdoor activities planned, it’s best to wear wraparound sunglasses or glacier glasses, which are designed with darker lenses, greater visible light filtration and side covers. This will ensure your eyes are protected from all angles as snow blindness can be caused even from indirect light. You should also keep the glasses on during overcast conditions as UV rays can easily burn through thin clouds. What Do I Do if I Experience Snow Blindness? Just as with sunburned skin, the effects of sunburned corneas, though painful, often resolve themselves within a few days. Visiting your eye doctor in Edmonton will help to diagnose the issue and ensure that nothing more serious is causing your condition. Your eye doctor will also be able to recommend proper eye drops to use and provide advice to make the healing process easier. If you wear contacts, they should be removed immediately and not worn again until your eyes have healed. It’s usually best to try to stay indoors and refrain from rubbing your eyes. To alleviate pain, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers or try placing a cool, damp washcloth over your closed eyes. If your symptoms continue for more than two days or get worse, be sure to schedule a visit with your eye doctor as soon as possible. Visit Your Eye Doctor in Edmonton Do you have additional questions about how to keep your eyes safe from the sun? The eye doctors at Optometrists’ Clinic Inc. in Edmonton are here to help you. We provide comprehensive eye care and can answer any questions, as well as provide you with the proper sunglasses or other protective eyewear. We welcome new patients. If you would like to make an appointment, contact us today to set up a time for your visit.