How Much Does Snow Reflect Harmful UV Rays?

UV RadiationWith winter now arriving in full force across much of the country, there’s no better time than now to review the dangers of snow for your vision. Yes, snow is white and fluffy, but it can cause all types of harm, especially to your child’s eyesight.

According to the World Health Organization, snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV radiation emitted by the sun. By comparison, most surfaces reflect 10 percent or less, as the Appalachian Mountain Club points out. That means that winter snow, while beautiful, is much more damaging to your eyes.

If you like to ski or snowboard, you need to be extra careful! For every 1,000 feet in elevation, UV exposure goes up by 10 percent. That means if you’re skiing at a mountain that’s 4,000 feet above sea level, your exposure is 40 percent higher than normal.

UV radiation does not just affect your eyesight; it also affects your skin, which means you can even get sunburn in the peak of winter. With such high UV levels during the winter months, you and your child are at a higher risk for photokeratitis, also known as snow blindness. Photokeratitis is a fancy term for a sunburned eye, which specifically means that your cornea is essentially sunburned. This can cause temporary blindness and an array of other symptoms, including:

• Eye pain

• Watery eyes

• Red eyes

• Light sensitivity

• Blurry vision

• Swollen eyes

• Headaches

If you suspect that you or your child has snow blindness, it’s best to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist, but there a few at-home steps you could take, as well. Placing a cool, damp washcloth over your child’s closed eyes can help relieve pain or irritation. It’s also important to make sure your child does not rub his or her eyes as that may make matters worse. Last, it’s important, of course, to make sure that you or your child wear your sunglasses whenever you’re outside in the winter, but especially following any snowblindness.

Give the gift of good eyesight during the holidays and purchase a new pair of sunglasses from Real Kids Shades for the child in your life! Protecting your child’s vulnerable eyes is the gift that will keep on giving. Take a look at our full online catalog now to find the perfect pair or give us a call at 800-283-1106 for help finding the shades that will best suit your child’s needs.