How to Prevent Snow Blindness

How to Prevent Snow Blindness
Snow blindness is a condition in which the intense UV rays reflected off the snow combine with those directly from the sun to burn your cornea, causing pain and visual impairment. Snow blindness is a concern for winter sports enthusiasts, particularly at high altitudes. Those that plan to be out in the snow for extended periods of time should take precautions against this condition.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Sunglasses
Step 1
Purchase the correct sunglasses. If you plan a trip where you will be at risk for snow blindness, purchase dark sunglasses that allow less than 10 percent of harmful UV rays to pass through. These should wrap around your eyes, protecting from every angle. You can find sunglasses built specifically for use in high alpine and polar environments, often called glacier glasses.
Step 2
Wear your sunglasses even when the sun is not out. UV rays can still penetrate even in cloudy weather, so when traveling in high alpine and polar environments be sure to keep your sunglasses on at all times.
Step 3
Wear a hat or helmet with a visor. To help protect from rays from above, opt for a visor.
Step 4
Create your own goggles. If you've lost your sunglasses, make eye protection for yourself using a piece of tape, cardboard, bark or other available material. Cut a nose into the goggles and two thin slits to see out of. Secure them to your face with string, tape or twine and wrap them around as best as possible to get the most protection.
Step 5
Rub soot or charcoal under the eyes. There's a reason athletes often do this on sunny days: The black will help to attract sunlight, diverting it away from your eyes.
Step 6
Recognize the symptoms. Symptoms for snow blindness include red, teary eyes, a rough, gritty feeling in the eyes and acute headaches. If you should experience these symptoms, get out of the light and proceed with treatment.

Tips & Warnings

Don't forget to apply sun block to your skin, as your skin can easily be burned.
Symptoms do not occur until hours after UV damage has taken place, so being proactive is extremely important.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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