Snow Blindness

What Is Snow Blindness?

Snow blindness is a condition where the eyes have been exposed to too much of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, it is also called photokeratitis. It is a painful condition and people who are travelling outside in snowy conditions/terrain, such as across a snowfield or in a high-altitude winter location and not wearing the correct eye protection are most at risk from this condition. Snow blindness can affect people that live in snowy environments, such as the polar regions, and it can also affect people that undertake outdoor activities in snowy conditions like skiing, hiking, snowboarding etc. It is advised to protect the eyes from snow blindness that people wear sunglasses or snow or glacier goggles that fully block out the sun’s UV rays. The sun’s UV rays can burn the cornea which causes snow blindness in the above-mentioned conditions. People may not notice the effects of snow blindness for numerous hours after the exposure to the sun’s strong rays.

What Are the Symptoms of Snow Blindness?

There are various symptoms of snow blindness but they can include eye pain, blood shot eyes, excessive tearing, and eyelid twitching which cannot be controlled. One of the most common symptoms if feeling gritty or sandy eyes and in severe cases the eye can swell shut. As previously mentioned pain can be felt with snow blindness, this is caused by inflammation to the cornea from the lack of eye protection or insufficient protection to the sun’s UV rays. In some cases, snow blindness, can cause loss of vision temporarily and in severe cases of repetitive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause permanent loss of vision.

How to Prevent Snow Blindness

People in snowy environments need to take correct measures to avoid snow blindness such as;

Sunglasses – sunglasses need to block out the sun’s UV rays efficiently from all angles, and sunglasses with 100% UVA and UBA protection would be recommended. Wrap-around or full coverage sunglasses would also be preferred as light needs to be prevented from getting in at the sides of sunglasses if travelling in snowy conditions/environments.

Glacier Goggles/Sunglasses – these are an alternative to sunglasses if struggling to find full coverage sunglasses. They look and fit like a normal pair of sunglasses but they have material at the sides and bottom to prevent the sun’s UV rays from getting in. The lenses of these goggles are normally mirrored and polarised, which are darker than average sunglasses.

Snow/Ski Goggles – snow and ski goggles are very good for people in snowy conditions and are great if the conditions get windy or if there is a blizzard. Unlike sunglasses and glacier goggles/sunglasses, snow and ski goggles fit tightly around the eyes and give complete eye coverage. Again, lenses that are mirrored or dark would be recommended so they can be worn in sunny conditions and prevent snow blindness.

10 Simple Tips On Children’s Christmas Toys And Eye Safety

Christmas is nearly upon us and I expect many parents and families are looking at what toys to buy their children this year. Christmas should be a happy, fun time of year with children playing with their new toys, but thousands of children every year suffer from eye injuries caused by toys. These can range from minor accidents, which don’t require any attention from an eye doctor, to more serious accidents and even blindness. Some examples of eye injuries caused by toys are corneal abrasions, increased intraocular pressure and traumatic cataracts.

Here are 10 simple tips that can help you make the right toy choices for your children this Christmas.

1. Try to avoid toys that shoot objects such as arrow guns for children under 6 years old, even after this age they should always been supervised when playing with them. Children should be advised never to aim at someone’s face, even if the object they are shooting is soft such as foam.

2. A toy should be labelled with the age range it is suitable for, for example if there is a chance of choking, the toy should be labelled for children over 3 years old only. When making your Christmas shopping trips it is always best to follow the advice on the packaging of the toy but these are guidelines and children develop at different rates, so you should always go with what you think is best for your child.

3. Make sure toys will not shatter when played with or have small pieces that could break off easily. These small shards, which may be sharp, could be thrown up into a child’s eye if it breaks which can cause serious injuries.

4. Try to also avoid toys that have sharp edges or points, they could poke their eye or another child’s.

5. Christmas time is when families get together and there may be a large age range of children playing together, always try to separate children’s toys so younger children don’t play with toys that are meant for older children.

6. You may be thinking of buying an older child a chemistry set, always supply them with safety goggles to avoid any chemicals getting into the eyes which can cause nasty injuries, and always supervise them while they are using with it.

7. You should also give children protective eyewear if you buy them sporting equipment especially those that involve a ball.

8. If a toy becomes damaged (hopefully not too soon after Christmas) you should throw it away to avoid it becoming a danger to a child’s eyes. Mending a toy with glue might seem a good idea, especially if it is new, but the join where the glue is will not be as strong and could break off again easily.

9. Toys that have a long handle, such as a stick pony, should always have rounded ends. Again, you should always supervise children when playing with these type of toys as they can swing them around and hit someone’s eye.

10. Children get very excited on Christmas day and young children may find the wrapping paper and packaging more interesting that the toys themselves, but these can also be dangerous to young eyes.