A few years ago, my dear maternal grandmother visited an optometrist. After thoroughly examining my grandmother’s eyes, this medical professional informed her that she had cataracts in both of them. Concerned, my grandmother immediately made an appointment with a surgeon. The two surgeries to remove the cataracts from my grandmother’s eyes were successful. Scheduling annual eye exams is crucial. During these appointments, your optometrist will check for potentially harmful conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. On this blog, I hope you will discover the most important reasons you should visit your eye doctor every year. Enjoy!
Although you may not think that your eyes can get sunburned in the wintertime, they can. Snow blindness, which is clinically referred to as photokeratitis, comes from excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun, which causes inflammation in the cornea of the eye.
The sun reflecting off snow and ice can cause the condition. Therefore, if you enjoy winter sports and being outdoors in the snow, you are at risk for snow blindness and should know what you can to avoid it.
Even though snow blindness can be extremely painful, you may not know right away that there is a problem. But factors, such as skiing down snowy slopes, puts you at increased risk for symptoms of snow blindness.
If you have light-colored eyes, your eyes are going to absorb more ultraviolet rays from the sun. The same is true if you live in a high elevation area where the thin air provides less protection from UV rays.
Certain medications, including antihistamines, cholesterol medications, antidepressants, antibiotics, diuretics, and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can put you at risk as well. Your physician should inform you of the need to decrease exposure to the sunlight while taking any of these medicines on a regular basis.
Symptoms and Their Treatment
If you suffer from snow blindness, your eyes will hurt and may be red and watery. You can have a gritty feeling in your eye, blurred vision, and eye swelling. Your pupils may become constricted, causing extreme sensitivity to light. You may also notice that your eyelids are twitching. Headache is another symptom.
As soon as you begin experiencing symptoms of snow blindness, go back indoors and rest in a dark area. If you wear contact lenses, remove them. Avoid rubbing your eyes and apply cool compresses to help relieve pain and discomfort.
If your symptoms are severe or the pain doesn't go away, see a vision care specialist as soon as possible, as snow blindness can cause a temporary loss of vision. He or she may prescribe pain-relieving medications and eye drops to help soothe your eyes as they heal.
Besides snow blindness, frequent exposure to UV light–even in the wintertime–can eventually cause macular degeneration and cataracts. Fortunately, you can help protect your eyes against both immediate and cumulative damage by wearing sunglasses.
Choose dark-shaded or polarized sunglasses that provide 99 percent or higher UV absorption. Wearing wrap-around sunglasses gives your eyes added protection. The wide frame covers the entire eye and the sides of your face, keeping the sun's rays from getting in from the sides. Wrap-around sunglasses also shield your eyes from wind and blowing snow.
When skiing or snow boarding, wear snow goggles to block out the sun's harmful rays. Wear tight-fitting goggles with dark or mirrored lenses for optimum protection, particularly if you are out in the snow on sunny days for long periods of time. Contact an optometrist like Charles Richards A OD for more information on protecting your eyes this winter.