Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis or simply snow blindness is an eye condition that results from the exposure of the eye to UV rays of the sun for a long time. It is a painful eye condition and usually affects people traveling in snowy terrain on high altitude without proper eye protection.
It does not only affect the people living in the Polar Regions but also people who go for a lot of snow activities like skiing, hiking, snowboarding etc. The UV rays of the sun burn the cornea of the eye and leads to snow blindness.
Symptoms of Snow Blindness
Some of the common symptoms of snow blindness are:
- Increased watering or tearing of the eyes
- Pain which is causes due to the inflammation of cornea that takes place due to the exposure of the eyes to UV rays
- Eyelid twitching
- Feeling of grit and sand in the eyes
- Constricted pupils
- Discomfort from intense light
- Swelling and shutting of the eyes under extreme condition
Snow blindness can bring on temporary loss of vision. Prolonged and daily exposure of the eyes to the harmful UV rays of the sun can also lead to permanent loss of vision.
Prevention of Snow Blindness
Snow blindness can be prevented by wearing proper sunglasses that transmit a very low percentage of visible light and can absorb most of the UV rays. Below given are some of the gears that you ought to wear to prevent snow blindness:
It is important that you opt for sunglasses that block the UV rays of the sun effectively from all reflective surfaces. If you are planning to go skiing or hiking high up in the mountains, you might confront weather conditions that usually leads to snow blindness and in such cases you need ‘full coverage’ sunglass that blocks light from all the direction. Go for dark mirror coated or polarized glasses for the complete protection.
This is another option that you have and you can get one of these if you are unable to get a full coverage sunglass. Glacier goggles are specially designed for snow sports and activities and though these look like sunglasses, they have special features that block light from all the directions. The size guards are attached perfectly to block the light. The lenses are polarized and are darker than normal sunglasses.
Also known as ski goggle, this is the best option for people traveling in snowy and windy conditions. These eye gears fit you tightly and offer you full coverage. However, make sure that you choose one that has a dark or polarized lens.
Anesthetic eye drops are recommended to get relief from the pain though this is not a feasible solution for prolonged time and can also hinder the healing process of the cornea. Artificial tears and wet and cool compress can also soothe the pain. Anti inflammatory eye drops are also recommended in this condition.