Isn’t it too Cold For Sunglasses?

Understanding Photokeratitis

Purchasing new sunglasses is often something we think of for the beach or summer weather, but they should be something you think about all year round. The stylish fashions and spurts of purchases when it comes to sunglasses flourish every year during warm weather when vacations and beaches are on everyone’s minds.

But the glare, and the protection sunglasses offer, should be on your mind all year. Why? Sunglasses do much more than make a fashion statement. In the winter they can prevent “Snow Blindness”, as well as keep harmful UV rays from the sun from damaging your eyes. Most of you have heard of the protection that sunglasses provide from the Sun’s UV rays but “Snow Blindness” or Photokeratitis, is a serious condition that sunglasses can also protect your eyes from.

Snow Blindness (Photokeratitis):

“Snow Blindness” is an acute condition brought on by too much exposure to the Sun’s UV rays when in the snow. Snow Blindness is when the cornea is burned from exposure to the Sun and Sun’s rays. It’s much like a sunburn of the eyes.

During the winter months many people are active skiing, sledding, Bobsledding, and participating in other outdoor activities. Without the protection of UV 400 sunglasses, you can be exposed to the sun’s rays in Two ways: directly (from exposure to UV rays) and indirectly (from the reflection of the UV rays from the snow). This is very damaging to the cornea and puts you at even more risk of developing this condition than with sun exposure alone. After too much exposure to these rays after a long period of time you can experience partial or complete loss of vision.

Photokeratitis Treatments:

There are many treatments for “Snow Blindness” including Anesthetic eye drops. These are used for a short time only as they can hinder your cornea’s recovery. Also, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drops and cold, wet compresses can also provide relief.

Recovery duration from “Snow Blindness,” or Photokeratits, can vary depending on how long you were exposed and how severe the burn is. It’s best to be examined by your eye care professional if you have pain and/or light sensitivity after being outside for extended periods of time.

Photokeratitis Symptoms:

  • Sore/Painful eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Eye Lid Twitching
  • Foreign Body Sensation
  • Halos and/or Spots in the vision

Photokeratitis, or “Snow Blindness” can be very damaging to your vision. If you have been exposed to the sun or reflection from snow for long periods of time and have any of the above symptoms you should see your eye care professional.

In summary – the best option is to reduce exposure from the beginning by protecting your eyes with wrap-around style, 400+ UV protection sunglasses.These are not necessarily the most expensive glasses, and as a matter of fact inexpensive sunglasses can provide just as much, if not more protection than many ‘designer’ pairs so you don’t have to ‘break the bank’ to protect your eyes.

Click below to hear “TV’s Eye Doctor” Brian Boxer Wachler answer a patient inquiry regarding sun protection during winter.

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