UV Eye Safety in the Winter

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Did you know that UV eye protection is important all year round? While we all take extra precautions during the hot summer months, it’s important to remember that the sun can harm our eyes during the winter as well.

The risks that UV Light imposes on your eyes are numerous:

  • Increased risk of eye diseases such as cataracts & macular degeneration
  • Increased risk of cancers on the skin surrounding the eyes
  • Increased risk of growth on the eye such as pinguecula & pterygium

UV Protection in the winter

Eye protection is especially important while participating in winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding. Excessive UV exposure happens at high elevations and reflective surfaces such as snow. Even on cloudy days, UV rays are able to penetrate clouds and cause damage to the eye’s surface. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people protect their eyes during the winter months with goggles & sunglasses that offer UV protection.

When skiing and snowboarding, proper eye protection can also protect against sports related eye injuries.

What is Snow Blindness?

Also known as photokeratitis, snow blindness occurs when UV rays reflected off ice and snow damage the top layer of the cornea. Snow blindness is especially common during skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and mountain climbing. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurry vision, tearing, photosensitivity, gritty feeling, and more. While the condition will resolve on its own, it’s best to avoid such discomfort with proper eye protection during the winter months.

Choosing the right UV protection

  • sunglasses and snow goggles should absorb at least 99 percent of UV rays
  • snow goggles should wrap around to protect surrounding eye structures from UV damage
  • polarizing lenses can be used to reduce glare to make activities safer & more enjoyable