Overcast skies and low temperatures often cause people to forget about the dangers of UV light in the winter. However, glare from snow and ice mean winter light can be extremely damaging to the eyes, especially in growing children.
In fact, snow reflects almost 80 percent of the sun’s rays, meaning a day outside in the snow without proper eye protection, such as goggles or sunglasses that block harmful UV light, can actually be worse for the eyes than a day at the beach, warns the The New York Times. Risk of damage increases further if children are skiing, snowboarding, or playing in the snow.
At high altitudes, where the air is thinner, the intensity of the sun’s rays increases. According to VSP, UV radiation rises by around 3 percent every 1,300 feet. In addition, the closer you are to the equator, the higher the UV levels. If you live in a Southern state, it’s extra important that your kids have adequate protection. Wherever you live, remember that sunlight is at its strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Exposure to UV glare caused by snow can result in sunburn of the cornea, called photokeratitis or snow blindness, which causes pain, tearing and a gritty sensation in the eyes. According to Oregon Eye Specialists, snow blindness can also lead to even more serious conditions in the future, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, as well as cancer of the eyelids.
Reducing the Risk of Glare
Cold winter air combined with glare can cause dry, fatigued, itchy and painful eyes, as well as blurred or distorted vision. Sunglasses with polarized lenses can help shield eyes from the cold and make seeing clearly easier.
Protect your kids’ eyes from winter glare by checking out Real Kids’ collection of polarized sunglasses. For the best protection, look for our wraparound models. Remember, all of our shades feature polycarbonate lenses, which are perfect for keeping kids safe when they’re playing winter sports.
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