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Don’t Let Snow Blindness Ruin Your Winter Vacation

While most people have sunglasses high on their packing list for a tropical vacation, many people don’t consider it as much of a priority for colder climate getaways. But they should, and here’s why:

Wintertime vacations often include activities that involve snow and ice and in general, conditions that can lead to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. Without proper eye protection, this can lead to photokeratitis or snow blindness, a condition that results in pain and temporary vision loss.

Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eye which occurs when the eye is exposed to invisible ultraviolet or UV rays, from the sun or other sources such as sun lamps or tanning beds. It mainly affects the cornea, the curved outermost surface of the eye that plays a role in your ability to focus, and the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It causes inflammation, pain and sometimes a temporary loss of vision.

Despite its name, snow blindness doesn’t occur exclusively in the snow. It can happen in any environment in which UV rays are strongly reflected including water, sand or ice as well. It is also more common in high altitudes where the sun’s ultraviolet rays are stronger and the air is thinner, which is why skiing and mountain climbing can even be more risky than summertime activities on a lower altitude. Snow and ice reflect more UV light than almost any other surface, but you don’t always feel or notice the strong glare, making snow blindness a silent winter hazard that can only be prevented by awareness.

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

Unfortunately, just like any sunburn, you usually don’t notice the symptoms of snow blindness until the damage has already been done. Symptoms usually occur several hours after the activity, so one may not realize that they were caused from snow blindness.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Tearing
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Glare or Halos
  • Blurry Vision
  • Watery Eyes
  • Swollen Eyes or Eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Temporary Vision Loss

Any vision loss that does occur will usually return with in a day or two, but the greater the exposure to the UV rays, the worse the damage that is done.

How Is Snow Blindness Treated?

There is little to do to treat photokeratitis. Just like a sunburn elsewhere on the body, it eventually heals on its own. There are however, some steps you can take to find relief from the symptoms which include:

  • Stay indoors, in a dark area until the eyes become less sensitive.
  • Wear sunglasses if it helps.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Remove contact lenses.
  • Apply preservative-free artificial tears to add moisture.
  • Use a cold compress to soothe your eyes.
  • Try over-the-counter pain relief or antibiotic eye drops according to your eye doctor’s advice.

If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within 24 -48 hours, contact your eye doctor immediately.

Tips to Prevent Snow Blindness

Snow blindness is actually very preventable and all it takes is a good pair of sunglasses or sports goggles. Any time you are outside, rain or shine, you should wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses. That’s right, the sun’s powerful UV rays can even penetrate clouds on an overcast day.

If you are involved in sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing or water activities consider a pair of wrap-around sunglasses or sports goggles with shields to prevent the rays from entering from above and through the sides. Wearing a hat or helmet with a brim will also help to increase protection.

Whether you are going North, South or somewhere in between, make sure to pack your shades and protect your eyes so you have an eye-safe, fun and enjoyable vacation.

SOUTH COAST OPTOMETRY UPDATE – JULY 1, 2020

COVID-19 has been and continues to be an ongoing trial for all of us. During this unforeseen time, we ask kindly for your understanding and compliance to the CDC guidelines. In order to decrease the chances of contraction, we are allowing only one parent to accompany their child during the examination. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

We also want to inform you of the new additional symptoms of COVID-19 that have been added to the previous symptoms as potential indicators of having COVID-19:

New symptoms:             Congestion/runny nose
                                           Nausea
                                           Diarrhea

Previous symptoms:       Headache
                                            Fever/chills
                                            Dry cough
                                            Shortness of breath
                                            Fatigue
                                            Sore throat
                                            Muscle/body aches
                                            New loss of taste or smell

Please be aware that a person does not have to have all of these symptoms but anyone or multiple symptoms can be an indicator of having COVID-19. If you or any family members are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we kindly ask that you reschedule your appointment and contact yourprimary care provider. It is best to reschedule your appointment with us after being symptom-free for14 days.

We at South Coast Optometry truly appreciate each and every one of you as a person and value your trust in us to take care of your most precious eyes. As always, we will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and communicate any and all changes through our website,
www.SouthCoastOptometry.com. Again, we truly appreciate your understanding and support during this unprecedented time and look forward to seeing everyone soon!

Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel E. Quon, O.D., and The Entire South Coast Optometry Team!!!

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Until further notice, we are only seeing essential care patients. Our hours are:
Monday: 10:00 AM to 7:00PM
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Friday: 10:00AM to 6:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

We now offer TeleHealth consultations, Call (714) 540-2020 to schedule a time
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