Winter Sports Eye Safety Tips: Wear Sunglasses or Goggles in the Snow
Young children love the snow, whether it is making snowmen, sledding or racing down the slopes on skis or snowboards. While most parents are very careful to make sure their kids are dressed warmly, they also need to be sure to protect vulnerable young eyes and heads with sunglasses, goggles and helmets.
Although a smaller amount of UV radiation reaches the Earth’s surface in winter, snow is highly reflective. On a sunny winter day, snow can reflect 80% of all UV rays, compared with 10% for grass and 15% for dry beach sand. This intense exposure can temporarily harm the eyes producing "snow blindness" (photokeratitis) and increase the risk of an individual developing sunlight-related eye disorders (e.g,. cataracts) later in life.
Dr. Borchert said that symptoms of snow blindness might not appear until 6-12 hours after exposure. "A child with photokeratitis may complain of extreme sensitivity to light and the feeling of having sand in the eye. A family physician or eye doctor should be consulted immediately. While a child’s cornea will heal with time and treatment, continued childhood exposure to large amounts of UV radiation may contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration in adulthood."