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  • Winter UV Eye Safety

  • Risks for Skiers and Snowboarders

    The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are underway! It’s a good time to remember the hidden risks for skiers and snowboarders. Whether you are a spectator or hitting the slopes yourself.

  • UV Light Reflected Off Snow Can Damage Eye Surface

    Do you take precautions before enjoying beautiful winter days? If you're like most people, you do not.
  • Most of us remember to wear eye protection in the summer, but we probably don't think about it as much during the winter months, even though studies show that sun exposure — regardless of season — may increase the risk of developing cataracts, snow blindness and growths on the eye, including cancer.  While you’re out on the slopes, it’s easy to forget you’re exposed to damaging UV rays that are reflected by the snow.

    In a recent study published in Archives of Dermatology, researchers took multiple readings of UV radiation at 32 high-altitude ski areas in western North America and interviewed thousands of skiers and snowboarders to find out whether they took precautions against the sun, such as wearing hats, sunscreen and goggles. The study found that most skiers and snowboarders took only occasional precautions against the sun.

    Sun reflecting off the snow can be very harsh. Exposure to UV radiation can even be high on cloudy days; in the northern hemisphere, the highest exposure is at midday. This extends through late winter and into early spring. Exposure increases with elevation.

    Excessive exposure to UV light reflected off snow can damage the eyes' front surface. In addition to cataracts, sun exposure can lead to lesions and tumors that may be cosmetically unappealing and require surgical removal. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people be especially careful to protect their eyes in the winter months and only wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection.

  • How Does UV Light Affect Eyesight?

    Both long-term and short-term exposure to UV radiation can harm the eyes, affect vision, and compromise overall eye health.

    There are several eye diseases and conditions caused or aggravated by exposure to UV radiation, such as:

    • Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration (AMD) is caused by damage to the retina over time and is the leading cause of age-related blindness. Extended exposure to UV light increases your risk of developing macular degeneration.
    • Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens -- the part of the eye that focuses the light we see. UV light, especially UV-B rays, increases your risk for certain types of cataracts. It is estimated that 10% of all cataract cases are directly attributable to UV exposure.
    • Pterygium. Often called “surfer’s eye,” pterygium is a pink, non-cancerous growth that forms on the layer of conjunctiva over the white of your eye. UV light from the sun is believed to be a factor in the development of these growths.
    • Skin Cancer. Skin cancer in and around the eyelids is also linked to prolonged UV exposure.
    • Photokeratitis. Also known as corneal sunburn or “snow blindness,” photokeratitis is the result of high short-term exposure to UV-B rays. Long hours at the beach or skiing without proper eye protection can cause this problem. It can be very painful and may cause temporary vision loss.
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