Well, if you live in Cleveland you KNOW why we're putting this post up! We are known to have some pretty crazy weather around here. Quite a few of our patients will notice how bright it is when the sun is out and the snow is on the ground, and some of them were worried about Snow Blindness. So what, exactly, IS snow blindness, anyway?
Ultraviolet light in high doses is actually toxic to many parts of the eye. The cornea, the window to the eye, is especially affected by exposure to these high doses. In fact, welder's flash is actually an ultraviolet "burn" to the cornea. There is lots of UV light in sunlight. On snowy landscapes when the sun is out the UV light is not only transmitted directly into the eye from above, but it is reflected and CONCENTRATED or focused by the snow crystals on the ground.
Snow blindness is a kind of UV damage to the cornea. That's why you always see pictures of mountaneers wearing sunglasses with side shields, or very dark goggles.Same thing for skiers, if they are being smart about eye protection!
Can you get snow blindness here in Cleveland just from your daily activities? Well, probably not. At least not unless you are a park ranger in our Emerald Necklace of Metroparks!