Skiers urged to protect their eyes on the slopes

Skiers urged to protect their eyes on the slopes

When gearing up to hit the slopes, skiers often prepare themselves with the right equipment to stay safe whilst skiing, but many fail to consider protecting their eyes from the sun and its effects when combined with dazzling snow.

Now, eye experts from Viewpoint Opticians in York, are advising skiers and snowboarders to protect their eyes properly when out in the snow and sun to avoid a bout of snowblindness, also known as photokeratitis.

Trevor Rowley, owner of Viewpoint, is urging people to steer clear of the potentially problematic combination of sun and snow by wearing the right eyewear with full eye coverage even when off piste. He said: “More than one million Britons go on skiing holidays every year and although we are all familiar with snow and ice, it is easy to forget to constantly protect your eyes against the harsh effects of a snow and sun combination.

“Many still succumb to snowblindness, a condition caused by failing to use adequately protective eyewear in high ultraviolet (UV) light conditions like skiing. This can be prevented by wearing appropriate sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB light and have side coverage of the eyes, when you’re off-piste or even whilst enjoying that outdoor lunch.”

Photokeratitis or snowblindness typically occurs at high altitudes on highly reflective snow fields. The symptoms include painful watering red eyes, swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light and reduced vision due to the irritation to the covering of the cornea.

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Trevor also has the following advice for anyone suffering from photokeratitis. He said: “The patient can be helped by eye drops available from a hospital ophthalmic department while lubricating eye drops from a chemist can help to give some relief. Dark glasses and avoidance of bright light will also make the eyes more comfortable. Padding the eye closed for 24 hours is also helpful. If there is severe pain, the patient must seek the opinion of an optician. However avoiding the initial cause is the best course of action.”

Choosing the right sunglasses is crucial and these should have the CE marking to show they absorb UV, if not then they may not block all UVA, UVB and C which can all be harmful rays for the eyes. Not having the right UV protection is not only bad for the cornea and retina but can also cause early cataracts to form.