Cross-country skiing is a very healthy pastime that provides a lot of physical and mental health benefits. Unfortunately, enthusiasts of this sport may experience higher-than-normal rates of snow blindness. Without proper prevention, this minor issue could become a more pressing concern. Thankfully, skiers have simple ways to prevent this problem.
Snow Blindness Occurs Often During the Winter
Snow blindness is a medical condition known as photokeratitis. This problem develops when a person is exposed to massive doses of UV eyes on the cornea. The cornea can sunburn, which can trigger a very painful series of symptoms including blurred vision, headaches, and even a loss of vision.
This condition can happen at any time of the year but is more common during the winter because UV rays bounce off of the snow and spread UV rays. Additionally, the cold temperatures common in areas with excessive snow can dry out the eye and make the cornea even more prone to snow blindness.
Thankfully, snow blindness is a problem that goes away after a few days or less and rarely causes permanent issues. However, repeated cases of snow blindness may cause more profound and more problematic injuries to the cornea. This problem, unfortunately, is more likely in those who spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter, such as cross-country skiers.
Cross-Country Skiers May Experience This Problem
Though snow blindness may occur in multiple weather conditions, enthusiasts of winter-weather sports may experience this problem more frequently. Cross-country skiers who spend hours - or most of the day - out on the trails expose their eyes to high levels of UV rays that could trigger this problem and cause minor to significant damage to their vision.
Competitive skiers may notice this problem more than casual skiers because they are more likely to be on the trails for extended periods. Just as problematically, these competitive skiers are more likely to ski multiple times a week, thereby increasing their exposure to UV rays. Thankfully, the prevention of this problem is very simple.
You Can Prevent This Problem With Simple Solutions
The simplest way to prevent snow blindness is to wear high-quality sunglasses during every skiing event. These glasses will block UV rays from reaching the eyes and prevent the development of snow blindness symptoms. Skiers interested in this option should buy sun-sensitive photochromic lenses to get the best possible results.
Try to find a pair of glasses or goggles that covers the face as much as possible to avoid UV exposure along the edges of the frames. Wraparound glasses provide this level of protection, though they may cost a little more than basic sunglasses. Just as importantly, don't neglect to wear these sunglasses during every outdoor skiing event. UV rays are still present on cloudy days and may still impact a person's vision.
Also remember that snow blindness occurs with exposure to UV rays, so you're vulnerable during times when you're not actively skiing. If you're concerned about the appearance of wraparound skiing goggles that you need to wear all the time, then you may want to buy more casual wraparound sunglasses so you can socialize comfortably while protecting your health.
If snow blindness symptoms develop even with eye protection, cross-country skiers need to contact a vision specialist to figure out why they suffer from more severe symptoms. They may have more delicate or sensitive eyes or skin. A professional can help you prevent snow blindness or help to restore vision and minimize pain as soon as possible.
If you enjoy regular cross-country skiing, call or visit us at Sugarloaf EyeCare as soon as possible to minimize the risk of severe eye problems. Our professionals will work hard to identify possible vision problems and can provide the eye protection necessary to prevent snow blindness in cross country skiers, snowboarders, and winter hikers.