While some of us prefer to hibernate during the chilliest time of the year, others head out to partake in winter sports. We certainly can’t fault anyone who is able to keep moving throughout the season! However, a word to the wise about winter sports – they aren’t all easy on the eyes.
Winter activities that involve being outdoors in the sunlight can contribute to eye problems both in the short term and down the line. This is because sunlight carries ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Worse, snow reflects up to 80% of UV radiation, meaning you might be getting a double dose when there’s snow on the ground! These damaging UV rays are best known for increasing our risk of skin cancer. However, they can also have a negative impact on our eyes.
Sunlight And Your Health (And Eyes)
Sun exposure is not a seasonal health issue. No matter what time of year it is, UV radiation increases your long term risk of cataracts, growths on the eye, and cancer of the eye. In the winter, it can also immediately lead to “snow blindness.” This painful condition can be caused by UV rays being reflected off of ice and snow back into your eyes — as we mentioned before, as well as by dry and severely cold conditions.
Outdoor winter sports – particularly skiing and snowboarding – put your eyes at the greatest risk of exposure, as being inside for an activity naturally protects you from direct sunlight. Protecting your eyes from these dangers should theoretically be easy – as easy as wearing sunscreen and sunglasses in the summer.
Unfortunately, we often forget to do so. In fact, surveys indicate that most skiers and snowboarders take only occasional precautions against the sun. Worst of all, these winter sports require participants to be outdoors and exposed to reflected UV rays, typically at elevated altitudes. Elevation means that you are closer to the source of the UV rays, and can be affected by them more quickly.
What You Can Do
The good news is that a simple layer of protection is all it takes to save your eyes from the damaging sunlight. That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people wear goggles or sunglasses with UV protection. For winter sports, goggles will be your best go-to over normal sunglasses. Experts recommend looking for goggles that have polycarbonate lenses, as these are impact-resistant and less likely to shatter in a fall. Most importantly, goggles and sunglasses alike must have 100% UV protection – otherwise, some sunlight will penetrate the lenses and damage your eyes.
While goggles will help you enjoy your activities safely, keeping those sunglasses in your car for the ride home will also be important. Sun damage is thought to be cumulative – meaning those 15 minutes on the road here or there can add up to days, months, even years of UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection any time you’re outside or driving will save your eyes from this cumulative damage year round.
We can help you prep for the ride there! Phonetic Eyewear offers a number of sunglasses and guarantees that all orders offer 100% UV protection. As a bonus, our special lenses reflect and absorb a portion of the blue light emitted from computers, smartphones, and other digital devices – helping to protect your eyes from eye strain as well as the sun!
Interested in seeing what Phonetic’s blue light protection glasses can do for your eyes? Check out our FAQ page to learn more or visit our online shop to find the perfect glasses for computer use! You can also contact us with any questions you have during your shopping process.