What Is Snow Blindness & How You Can Protect Your Eyes from Glare

How horrible is when you are out on the mountains for a great day of skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing and you have to squint your eyes because of the horribly bright glare that will not seem to leave you alone.

Your eyes seem to be practically screaming for you to look anywhere else—but no matter where you try to divert your glance you simply can not seek comfort from those bright glares from the UV rays.

If you are wondering why this is happening and why you actually feel like in this situation you may go blind, it is because you are actually experiencing a form of snow blindness. For those wondering what is snow blindness, it is caused by the sun’s UV rays being intensified from the reflections it has on snow, water, and even sand.

There is a whole phenomenon behind it which we will explain now.

Defining Snow Blindness

In the most scientific terms, snow blindness is technically called photokeratitis. This is when your eyes are at risk of getting inflamed in the cornea and can actually sunburn your eyes.

The worst part about this is that you do not actually know you are experiencing this until it is way too late in the game. As soon as you think you may be experiencing snow blindness, the chances are that you already have developed it.

In general, the most common symptoms people experience from snow blindness are serious eye pain, a burning sensation that provides extreme discomfort, extreme sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and even the sensation of seeing halos when looking into the light. If it progresses, your actual eyes may swell and you could even experience headaches.

If you do develop snow blindness, you will want to get this treated as soon as possible so the symptoms do not progress. Experts tend to recommend that you give your eyes time to rest by staying inside and also wearing sunglasses or special glare protection glasses wherever you do go. If you are also someone who does wear contacts, you should give those a rest until your eyes recover.

Other ways to help treat snow blindness include using artificial tears to provide more moisture back into your eyes—think of it like lotion for your skin in a way. You need to keep the area moisturized so it can heal. Of course, you will also want to try at all costs to avoid touching your eyes as this will only cause them to become more irritated.

How To Protect Your Eyes From Snow Blindness

So while there are ways to heal your eyes from snow blindness, it would obviously be much more preferable to avoid having to deal with this uncomfortable situation at all. The great thing is that there are many different solutions you can be proactive about to protect your eyes and still enjoy your time in the snowy landscapes and doing the snow activities that bring you joy.

Here are the top tips from experts.

1. Wear Sunglasses Designed to Protect Against UV Rays

There are two types of sunglasses—the ones that are simply designed to be stylish and the ones that are meant to actually block out harmful UV rays. You can actually now get stylish sunglasses that equally protect your eyes and detract the UV rays away from your eyes. When you go outside in the snow, put them on always. While it may seem silly to wear sunglasses in the snow, your eyes will definitely thank you later. Sunglasses are not meant for just the beach.

2. Talk to Your Optometrist

Another great way to prevent snow blindness is to also talk to a professional eye doctor. They not only understand the general risks and prevention methods but can help formulate a customized plan to help you specifically. They will be able to recommend the best sun-sensitive lenses for you or even prescribe you glasses that can significantly improve your vision in the snow.

3. Get UV Protected Goggles

If you plan on spending a lot of time out in the snow doing fun adventure sports like skiing or snowboarding, then invest in special UV protection goggles that will stay put on your head while you zoom down the slopes. In general, the goggles should have side shields and also a rubber flange so the sunlight and UV rays are blocked completely from all angles.

4. Be Smart About Your Time Outside

Also, you do not want to push it to the limit when it comes to the amount of time you spend outside. Be sure to recognize the amount of time you are in the sun and also the amount of time your eyes have gone without protection. If you are conscious of this, then you will not risk a nasty surprise later on when snow blindness kicks into full force.