Sunglasses aren’t just the go-to summertime accessory. Winter demands that you wear your sunglasses too! Protecting your eyes from the harsh glare of the sun can decrease your likelihood of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and cornea sunburns. Exposure to the sun during the winter can also increase your risk vision problems due to snow glare, snow blindness, or dry eye. Skiers and snowboarders can get snow blindness without realizing it until it’s too late. Learn what you can do to protect your eyes from the sun this winter!
Protecting your eyes is very important for keeping your vision clear all your life. You only have 2 eyes, so you want to keep them healthy! Those who do protect their vision during both the summer and winter months with sunglasses can expect to have better vision in the long run. Most people know the importance of wearing sunglasses during the summer. The sun is out most days and UV rays are hitting both your eyes and skin.
UV rays (ultraviolet rays) are a form of radiation in the visible light spectrum, which is light that we can see. This light damages your vision and your skin. The only way to protect against this damage is through sunscreen and sunglasses. Studies have found that many people protect their eyes during the summer, but not so much during the winter. One study found that skiers and snowboarders only occasionally protect their eyes against the sun. That means they are getting at least occasional damage. Damage over time can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and snow blindness.
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness. The term "cataracts" means the clouding of the lens in your eye and can develop in one or both eyes. It results from changes to your eye’s tissues, commonly caused by aging or injury. You can injure your eyes from not protecting them properly with sunglasses, which can lead to cataract development and blindness.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss according to the American Macular Degeneration Association. It affects more than 10 million Americans. The macula is a part of the eye that helps focus your central vision. Macular degeneration causes loss in the center of your field of vision due to exposure to blue light (through electronic devices) and blue light rays from the sun. The retina is a part of the eye that allows you to see images. The macula is part of the retina that is damaged. You can protect yourself from that damage with proper sunglasses and computer glasses.
If you are an avid skier or snowboarder, what do you use to protect your eyes? Do you even think about eye protection? Many people don’t like the cold air hitting their eyes as they ski or snowboard. However, eye protection is for more than just protecting your eyes from becoming dry. You want to wear proper gear to keep your eyes healthy and to avoid damage from UV rays. During the winter months (and especially when hitting the slopes), you are surrounded by snow. Naturally, snow is white. When there is a bright sun shining, that whiteness can be almost unbearable to look at. Not only will it be hard to see, but you could be damaging your eyes much more than what you would during the summer.
Looking at bright snow can give yourself snow blindness. This is a form of photokeratitis, or when your eyes are exposed to harmful UV rays. This photokeratitis is basically a sunburn on your eyes, and it happens from looking at snow without proper sunglasses or eye protection during winter. UV rays from the sun are invisible and are reflected very strongly off of ice and snow, particularly at high elevations where the air is thinner. Snowboarding and skiing also involve the cold, which can dry out your eyes.
Depending on your unique needs, you can choose sunglasses to serve a wide range of purposes. We have polarized sunglasses that can filter glare, which is especially helpful for protecting your eyesight against the bright sun reflecting off the snow. Polarized sunglasses also help your eyes be more comfortable not only in the snow but when you are participating in water activities, driving or athletic events. Many snow goggles for skiing and snowboarding offer you flexibility, durability and lens quality that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Before hitting the slopes, make sure you not only have a great pair of UV-blocking sunglasses but proper UV-blocking goggles as well. You can’t get by with just a pair of sunglasses, as the cold air will get in and cause you dry eye and irritation. With snow all around you, sunglasses alone won’t be sufficient for snow activities, as you will still be hit with bright rays from the sides, top, and bottom.
Snowsports are a great way to pass the winter. You want to have all the fun without worrying about damage to your eyes. If you have vision needs, prescription options are available for people who need sun protection and the optics at the same time. Whatever your needs may be, we can help you find what works best for you. Don’t take a chance on damaging your eyesight! Call Optical Masters today at (720) 782-2190 to learn how you can protect your vision in the winter and what gear you need to do so!