Why Should You Wear Sunglasses in the Snow?

Author: Premier Eye Associates

When it comes to eye protection, most people associate sunglasses with sunny summer days. However, it is equally important to shield your eyes from the sun's harmful rays during winter activities, especially when surrounded by snow. While the beauty of snow-covered landscapes may be mesmerizing, the reflected sunlight can pose significant risks to your eyes. In this blog, we will explore why wearing sunglasses in the snow is crucial for maintaining good eye health and preventing potential damage.


The Reflective Power of Snow

Snow acts as a natural reflector of sunlight rather than absorbing it like many other surfaces. This reflective quality can create an intensely bright and glary environment, known as snow blindness or photokeratitis. Snow blindness is essentially a sunburn on the surface of the eyes, causing temporary but painful symptoms such as:

Eye Redness: The eyes may appear bloodshot due to inflammation from prolonged exposure to bright light.

Grittiness and Irritation: The cornea, the outermost layer of the eye, may become irritated and feel gritty, similar to having sand in your eyes.

Watery Eyes: Excessive tearing is a common symptom as your eyes try to protect themselves from the harsh conditions.

Sensitivity to Light: Light sensitivity, or photophobia, can cause discomfort and the need to squint in bright environments. 

Blurry Vision: Snow blindness can result in temporary blurred vision or difficulty focusing on objects.

To prevent these symptoms and protect your eyes, it is crucial to wear suitable eye protection, such as sunglasses, when venturing out into snowy environments.


UV Radiation and Eye Health

Snow not only reflects visible light but also intensifies the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching your eyes. UV radiation is present year-round, regardless of weather conditions, and can cause both short-term and long-term damage to your eyes. Here are a few reasons why UV protection is essential during winter activities:


Cataract Prevention: Chronic exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the eye's natural lens that can lead to vision impairment.

Macular Degeneration: Prolonged UV exposure has been linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

Pterygium Growth: UV radiation can contribute to the growth of abnormal tissue on the white part of the eye, known as pterygium. In severe cases, this growth can affect vision and require surgical removal.

Eyelid Protection: UV rays can also damage the delicate skin of your eyelids, leading to premature aging, wrinkles, and an increased risk of skin cancer.

By wearing sunglasses with proper UV protection, you can help reduce the risk of these eye conditions and maintain good long-term eye health.


Choosing the Right Sunglasses in the Snow Conditions

To effectively shield your eyes from the winter sun, it is essential to choose sunglasses specifically designed for snowy environments. Here are some key features to look for:

Polarized Lenses: Polarized lenses are particularly beneficial in snowy conditions as they reduce glare and enhance contrast, making it easier to see contours and obstacles in bright environments.

UV Protection: Opt for sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. Look for labels or stickers indicating UV400, which means the lenses block both UVA and UVB rays.

Wraparound Frames: Sunglasses with wraparound frames offer better coverage, minimizing light exposure from the sides.

Impact Resistance: If you will be engaging in winter sports or activities, consider sunglasses with impact-resistant lenses to protect your eyes from potential objects or accidents.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in learning more about how sunglasses can help in the snow.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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