Written by True Eye Experts
While most people have sunglasses high on their packing list for a tropical vacation, many people don’t consider it as much of a priority for colder climate getaways. But they should, and here’s why:
Wintertime vacations often include activities that involve snow and ice and in general, conditions that can lead to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. Without proper eye protection, this can lead to photokeratitis or snow blindness, a condition that results in pain and temporary vision loss.
Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eye which occurs when the eye is exposed to invisible ultraviolet or UV rays, from the sun or other sources such as sunlamps or tanning beds. It mainly affects the cornea, the curved outermost surface of the eye that plays a role in your ability to focus, and the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It causes inflammation, pain and sometimes a temporary loss of vision.
Despite its name, snow blindness doesn’t occur exclusively in the snow. It can happen in any environment in which UV rays are strongly reflected including water, sand or ice as well. It is also more common in high altitudes where the sun’s ultraviolet rays are stronger and the air is thinner, which is why skiing and mountain climbing can even be riskier than summertime activities on a lower altitude. Snow and ice reflect more UV light than almost any other surface, but you don’t always feel or notice the strong glare, making snow blindness a silent winter hazard that can only be prevented by awareness.
Unfortunately, just like any sunburn, you usually don’t notice the symptoms of snow blindness until the damage has already been done. Symptoms usually occur several hours after the activity, so one may not realize that they were caused from snow blindness.
Any vision loss that does occur will usually return with in a day or two, but the greater the exposure to the UV rays, the worse the damage that is done.
There is little to do to treat photokeratitis. Just like a sunburn elsewhere on the body, it eventually heals on its own. There are however, some steps you can take to find relief from the symptoms which include:
If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within 24 -48 hours, contact your eye doctor immediately.
Snow blindness is actually very preventable and all it takes is a good pair of sunglasses or sports goggles. Any time you are outside, rain or shine, you should wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses. That’s right, the sun’s powerful UV rays can even penetrate clouds on an overcast day.
If you are involved in sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing or water activities consider a pair of wrap-around sunglasses or sports goggles with shields to prevent the rays from entering from above and through the sides. Wearing a hat or helmet with a brim will also help to increase protection.
Whether you are going North, South or somewhere in between, make sure to pack your shades and protect your eyes so you have an eye-safe, fun and enjoyable vacation.
Our mission at True Eye Experts is simple — provide the best possible care to our patients. We make sure we’re doing this a few different ways. Our V-Eye-P Exam is one of the most comprehensive eye exams in the industry. We use state-of-the-art medical technology to screen, diagnose, and treat more conditions than most other providers in the area. We have an extensive collection of designer eyewear that can complement any patient’s face, style, and budget, and our advanced contact lens fitting process can help even “hard-to-fit” patients wear contacts comfortably. Book an appointment online at one of our True Eye Experts locations, conveniently located throughout Central Florida. Have questions or prefer to book over the phone? Give us a call today.
Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Symptoms, Treatment & More
10 Eye Healthy Foods to Eat This Year
"I have been getting my eyes checked by Dr. Samuel Teske for years. He is very thorough and thoughtful. The staff is also very professional and attentive. Highly recommend True Eye Experts!"
Everyone at this office is very friendly, helpful, and professional, whether it's helping you buy new frames, being fitted for glasses, or just interacting at the front desk. If something is wrong with my glasses, they are quick to remedy the situation. I would highly recommend this office for all your eye care needs!"
"Dr. Randich is personable and thorough. She spends time educating her patients with warmth and genuine concern. Staff is always friendly, helpful, and quick!"
"Staff was very professional, and the eye exam used the latest technologies. Very impressed with all that was done to check my eyes. Great experience!"
I had an emergency and needed to be seen as soon as possible. They fit me in right away and got my injury addressed and on the road to recovery! The staff is so professional and caring! Everyone had a smile on their faces & was welcoming. Thank you so very much for everything! – Kristen L.