Participating in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, hockey, snow tubing and sledding. Eye health becomes very important, due to injury or drastic environmental conditions.
Skiers and snowboarders are often going at a good speed down the slopes, as well as coming relatively close to trees. Speed mixed with obstacles often result in injuries, such as twigs to the eye or a knock to the eyes by a ski pole while falling. Snow goggles also help skiers and snowboarders to see better since cold air and snow are not flying into their eyes and causing them to squint.
Eye injuries in ice hockey have occurred in unacceptable frequency. In the early years, the hockey stick caused most of the injuries (75%). Because many blinding injuries were puck-induced and because stick injuries persisted, eye protectors were needed. No blinding eye injury has occurred to a player wearing a CSA-certified protector. CSA Standard Z262.2M90, published in 1990, includes visors. No blinding eye injury has been recorded in a player wearing a visor. Visors, however, must be worn properly—perpendicular to the ground, extending to the tip of the nose, and lying within a finger’s breadth of the nose tip.
Aside from the obvious risks to the eyes during these winter sports
Going outside at 20 (or lower) degrees, then quickly coming back inside, where the temperature is at least 70 degrees in the most conservative of homes, causes dry skin, chapped lips, and sore, scratchy eyes. Ways to combat these conditions this time of year can make a huge difference. First and foremost — stay hydrated. Drink a sip of water every 15 minutes while awake.
Taking adequate doses of fish oil for the omega-3 is also very helpful. Doses of 5 to 10 grams a day can make a big difference in your skin and eye health this time of year.
Because it’s so much colder outside in winter, our instinct might be to assume that we’re safe from damage from the sun.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. We are just as vulnerable to harmful UV rays in winter as we are in summer. Our skin might be mostly bundled up from the cold, keeping it safe from UV rays, but what about our eyes? And what about other ways our eyes are vulnerable in the winter months?
Wearing appropriate sunglasses while outside is also of vital importance to protect your eyes from the wind and from the light reflecting off the snow.
UV rays can come from both above and below in wintery conditions. Snow reflects nearly 80 percent of the sun’s rays, while beach sand reflects only 15 percent. So when skiing or snowboarding, your UV exposure is nearly doubled. Higher elevations on ski slopes mean thinner air, which allows more ultraviolet radiation into the atmosphere. UV radiation goes up 3 percent for every 1,312 feet of altitude; so on top of some mountains exposure can increase over 15 percent. Overcast weather can be deceptive since visible light is reduced while UV light still gets through. This causes many to put away their sunglasses, leaving their eyes unprotected.
Those of us who enjoy skiing or snowboarding will actually be exposed to more UV rays than people who prefer summer activities, because the atmosphere is thinner at high altitudes, making the sunlight harsher. This is just one reason ski goggles are a crucial piece of equipment for winter athletes.
Snow Blindness: A Winter Sunburn on Your Eyes
One way the sun can impact our eyes in winter is snow blindness. Too much sunlight can actually sunburn our eyes and cause temporary blindness, and this condition is much more common in winter due to sunlight reflecting off the snow. Because it can take hours for symptoms to appear, we often don’t know we have it until it’s too late and we’ve been exposing our eyes to all that sunlight for even longer. Luckily, there are things we can do to protect our eyes from winter conditions.
If you think sunglasses are only for summer, think again! A pair of polarized, 100 percent UV-blocking sunglasses are your best defense against harmful UV rays when you’re going about your day in snowy conditions.
Choosing the right snow googles: