The Winter Olympics are here and while our country’s top athletes are focused on getting a gold medal, we should also remember the importance of taking care of our eyes this time of year.


The Hidden Risk: UV Safety

Most people think of needing ultraviolet (UV) light protection in the summertime.  However, the winter time is also as equally important for eye safety.  Sun reflecting off the snow can be very harsh and exposure to UV radiation can be high even on cloudy days.  Eye exposure to UV radiation can cause snow blindness, cataracts, and growths on the eyelid including cancer.  The highest risk of exposure comes at midday.  This extends through late winter and early spring.  Increasing elevation also increases exposure to UV rays.  So all of you snowboarders and skiers should definitely have eye protection when you’re on top of the mountain.



Snow Blindness

Snow blindness, also called photokeratitis, occurs when UV rays reflected off the ice and snow at high elevations damage the cornea.  Severe cold and dryness can also lead to this condition.  This condition can be very painful and cause blurry vision, swelling, watery eyes.  Sunglasses or goggles that block 99 percent and higher of UV rays and protect from dry, freezing wind can help prevent snow blindness.


Choosing the Best Sunglasses

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to try and find the best pair of sunglasses:

  1. Make sure they block 100% of UV Rays.
  2. Bigger sunglasses with more eye coverage are better.
  3. Darker lenses don’t necessarily protect better.
  4. Lens color doesn’t matter.  Certain tints can help with contrast for our olympic athletes, but all that matters is the UV protection.
  5. Polarized lenses cut glare, not UV light.  They can help with driving and activities.
  6. Cost shouldn’t be a factor.  You don’t have to spend a lot as long as you get the UV protection, that is the most important.


So whether you’re an Olympic athlete or just someone that enjoys being outside this time of year, it’s important to protect your eyes.  If you still have questions or concerns then don’t hesitate to ask your doctor during your eye exam at Georgia Eye Specialists.