Did you know that snow may be dangerous to your eyes? This is particularly true if you’ve never spent a lot of time in a snowy location. If you plan to take a snowy getaway this year, you’ll want to pay attention to what types of eye wear can help keep your eyes in the best condition.
If you’re headed to the slopes for the weekend or plan to enjoy some skiing on your next holiday, keep in mind that the most common ski injuries occur to eyes, not the rest of the body. That may sound surprising, but it’s true. You need to be sure to protect these vulnerable parts of your body as you enjoy the slopes.
Even if you don’t plan to actually ski and are just going to enjoy a winter holiday, you need to take care. Your eyes are very sensitive and need the extra protection.
What Do Opticians Recommend?
It’s worth talking to your optician before you venture into the icy winter wonderland. They can administer an eye test to ensure there are no existing issues that may prevent you from heading into snowy areas.
At the very least, you’ll want to purchase some good sunglasses . Ideally, if you’ll be skiing or snowboarding, you’ll likely want to opt for snow goggles with tinted lenses. While some people prefer contact lenses, these don’t give your eyes as much protection as the other two options.
The reason for this is that UV rays can be quite dangerous to your eyes. When the atmosphere is nice and clear, as it often is on the ski slopes, the UV light tends to be stronger. Add in the white snow reflecting the light back at you and you have a recipe for disaster. In fact, new snow can reflect the light back at nearly 100%. This means you are getting double the usual amount of UV rays, since it comes from above and below.
While the damage tends to be temporary, it can be painful – so, it’s a good idea to protect your eyes with the proper eye wear.
When purchasing sunglasses, look for those that are designed specifically for snow use. Summer sunglasses tend to break in the cold, but goggles and glasses meant for winter sports will be flexible and tend not to shatter when hit. They should also allow for 180° views so you can see if someone is coming up beside you. Wraparound sunglasses work well for this and large lenses on goggles will also help increase visibility.
You should also look for eyeglasses or goggles that are scratch resistant. If you need a prescription lens, see if you can get it already built into the goggles or sunglasses. This eliminates the need to wear two sets of glasses or to reduce your vision while you’re on the slopes.
Eye Care in Snowy Climates
Whether you’re participating in winter sports or simply live in a cold area, your eyes require a little extra care when you’re in the snow. As mentioned above, you should have sunglasses that will block the UV rays and prevent snow blindness, but there are other things to consider, as well.
For example, it may be tempting to come in after a long day on the slopes and stand in front of the fire or heater. That can cause your eyes to dry out and become irritated. If you do stand in front of heat, turn away from it to protect your eyes.
See your eye doctor if you notice anything beyond minor irritations. It’s important to take good care of your eyes year round, but winter can make it tough sometimes. If you get anything in your eye, even a small piece of ice, it can do damage and you will need to get checked out. Obviously, the best choice is to protect your eyes beforehand. Make sure you use that eyewear.
Here are a few of the most common problems you’ll notice with eyes during the colder months.
Dry eyes: It’s very common for people to suffer from dry eyes during the winter months, particular if they spend time outdoors. The dry air and cold can cause issues. The simplest way to alleviate the discomfort that comes with dry eyes is to use artificial tears. You can carry these with you and they are simple and affordable to use.
Irritated eyes: With the wind, cold, and extra light reflecting off the snow, it’s likely you’ll deal with irritated eyes from time to time. The artificial tears mentioned above can be a temporary relief, but you may want to take further precautions. Avoid exposing your eyes to the wind and snow for long periods of time without protective goggles, since that can do quite a bit of damage over time.
Conjunctivitis: The cold and the flu are both likely to crop up during the colder months, thanks to people being indoors more and in close quarters. You’re more likely to pick up a secondary infection, conjunctivitis or pink eye, during this time, too. You may need to seek medical help if it continues, but you can also put a warm, moist compress on your eyes to help ease the irritation. Your doctor can recommend drops for treating the actual infection.
Debris in eye: It’s not uncommon for snow to get in your eyes and while it’s not necessarily damaging itself, since snow is just water, it could carry debris. Pieces from trees, rocks, and even salt that is used on the paths can also affect your eyes. If this happens, you can gently rinse your eye until the debris is flushed out, using clean water. If it persists or you continue to feel pain or irritation after the item is out, you can go ahead and see an eye doctor to be sure there is no permanent damage.
Swollen, red eyes: If you notice that your eyes are irritated, but also red and swollen, you’ve probably spent too much time in the sun and wind. The elements can really affect your sensitive eyes and may cause them to swell up. A warm compress and lots of rest is the best way to go with treating this type of issue. You’ll find that keeping your eyes closed more (or sleeping) is helpful, as well. If the issue persists beyond a day, however, you definitely should see an eye doctor. It’s always best to be safe than sorry and you don’t want to risk something big going on with your sight.
Remember that skiing has other hazards for your eyes, too. You’ll be far safer with glasses or goggles on, since things like debris can fly up from the ground and hit your eyes. You can also catch a whipping branch in the eye or you could end up with ice particles flying up from your skis or the skis of the person in front of you.
With so many things that can potentially cause damage, it makes sense to take a few extra precautions. After all, eye problems and injuries could drastically change your life. Is it really worth it, just to avoid using goggles?
Why You Should Get an Eye Test
Everyone needs to test their eyes on a regular basis and you are no exception. If you’re in the market for new eye wear, then you might as well check out the test before you do any purchasing. After all, if you end up needing a prescription or a new prescription lens, then it’s best to know this before you actually buy.
Don’t risk your eye health on the ski slopes. While it may be fun to play in the snow without thinking about protective care, you will end up regretting it later on. Snow blindness occurs quickly and can be very painful, not to mention you can’t see anything. If you don’t look after your eyes, you’ll be hard pressed to get in all your days on the ski hills. No one wants to sit around looking after their injuries when they could be outdoors, so take the precautions recommended and make sure you don’t end up doing just that.
Ready to start skiing? Make sure your eyes are protected by contacting David Paul Opticians and getting the best protective eye wear.