Winter Sports Safety

Now is the time of year when many people choose to jet off for skiing holidays.  Snow clad mountains and exhilarating winter sports offer a fun packed holiday for all the family. However, as much as these winter trips can bring fun and lasting memories, without proper precautions and preparation, there is a risk of serious injury. And we’re not just talking broken bones.

Photo-keratitis, more commonly known as snow blindness, is an injury caused by the eye’s cornea becoming sunburnt. The cornea, the eye’s outermost layer, becomes inflamed and symptoms can include:

  • A burning sensation
  • Painful / watery eyes
  • The feeling of grit or sand in the eyes
  • Seeing haloes around lights
  • Headache
  • Difference in colour vision

Although known as snow blindness, you don’t actually have to be around snow to get it. Any highly reflective surface such as white sand or water can cause photo-keratitis.  And it doesn’t even have to be a clear day for you to get snow blindness.  Snow and water reflect 80 – 100% of UV light, compared to grass which only reflects 3%.  So always protect your eye when you are around snow or water for long periods of time.

If you do experience any signs of snow blindness, the symptoms should go away in around 24-48 hours. To make this healing process quicker, it is advised that you stay inside and get some rest from the light. If you wear contact lenses, you should remove them until your eyes have healed, and, as tempting as it may be, you should avoid itching or rubbing your eyes. If your symptoms continue or get worse, then it could be an indication of another eye condition. In which case please contact your optician.

It’s easy to prevent snow blindness with proper eye protection. Sunglasses or ski goggles will provide this as long as they say that they provide 100% UV protection, or UV 400 protection. This means that the glasses will protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB radiation.


If you wear glasses, then reactive lenses that adapt to changing light could be a good choice for you. To talk about the options available then please call us to arrange an appointment on 01628 663055.