We take many precautions to avoid sunburn on our skin, face, and lips, but have you ever thought about your eyes? Many are surprised to learn our eyes can also acquire sunburn. This condition is known as photokeratitis or snow blindness.
What causes Snow Blindness?
Snow Blindness occurs when your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet light for an extended period of time, causing sunburn. It most commonly occurs in snowy areas because snow reflects 80% of UV rays.* Snow blindness can also occur in highly reflective environments with water or white sand.
In additional to natural UV rays, man-made sources of ultraviolet radiation can cause snow blindness. Typically, man-made UV rays only damage your eyes when proper eyewear is not being worn. This can happen when working with a welder’s torch or using tanning booths or sun lamps.
Can I lose my vision completely?
No, Snow Blindness is temporary and doesn’t cause actual blindness, it typically impairs your vision for 24 to 48 hours.
Symptoms of Snow Blindness
- Eye pain
- Burning, red, or watery eyes
- Gritty sensation
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Swollen eyes or eyelids
- Glare and halos around lights
Risk factors for snow blindness?
You and your family are at an increased risk for snow blindness when involved in sports with highly reflective surfaces. When skiing, snowboarding, and snow sledding, you should ensure everybody’s eyes are protected with snow goggles that provide 100% UV protection.