WHAT IS SNOW BLINDNESS?

Dr. Jim Martin 02/18/2015

skiing.jpgSnow blindness, also called photokeratitis, is an eye condition caused by exposure to sunlight or other artificial sources of light. Those whospend time outdoors in the winter months are often exposed to intense light reflected off both snow and ice. Fresh snow can reflect over 80 percent of UV radiation. This is an incredible amount of reflection compared to seafoam (25%) and beach sand (15%).

The reflection worsens as one nears the polar regions and high altitudes. For every thousand feet that one ascends, UV rays intensify by 4%. While snow blindness usually occurs when outdoor enthusiasts venture to high altitudes and fail to protect their eyes from strong sunlight, it can also occur when working with intense light sources. An example is the electric arc that is created during welding projects.

What Are The Symptoms Of Snow Blindness?

Unprotected eyes are susceptible to painful snow blindness similar to a sunburn of the eye's cornea. Snow blindness usually isn't noticed until hours after unprotected eyes have been exposed to the light source. When snow blindness occurs, there is an intense pain as if sand is stuck in the eyes. This induces a substantial increase in tear production and eyelid twitching. Another telltale sign is a severe constricting of the pupils.

How Is Snow Blindness Treated?

There are ways to treat and prevent snow blindness. Those who suffer from snow blindness can treat the condition by exiting the area where they were exposed to the sun and seeking medical attention. A doctor will use a fluorescein dye stain to show the eyes' affected areas. The patient's corneas will be covered and he'll be provided with pain relief.

How To Prevent Snow Blindness

Anyone who ventures outside for an extended period of time should take precautions to prevent snow blindness. Human eyes are sensitive to light and must be protected from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. The best form of protection is a pair of sunglasses or goggles rated for ample UV protection.

Stop snow blindness before it harms your eyes and crimps your active lifestyle. Visit Broome Optical in Amarillo for a pair of protective and stylish sunglasses. We carry Ray Bans and Oakleys that will guard against snow blindness while giving you a chic look with plenty of swagger. Our high-end sunglasses will block out the sun's harmful UV rays from the surrounding snow and ice and all other reflective surfaces. We can even incorporate your specific prescription into your sunglasses so you can see clearly while simultaneously protecting your eyes.

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