‘Snow’ excuse not to protect your eyes this winter

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach



Even though the holidays have all but faded from our memories, one step onto the front porch will remind us that winter is still very much with us, and not likely to disappear for at least 8 more weeks. Whether due to global warming or purely a freak of nature, we seem to be experiencing a much less snowy season than in years past.  While as a driver I am applauding this phenomenon, I do miss the occasional romp in the freshly fallen white powdery stuff!


We all have heard the adage that reminds us of how we lose a majority of our body’s heat through the top of our head, thereby necessitating the warm woolen hats when we venture out for winter sports.   While that is indeed true, there is one more piece of cold-weather gear that might prove even more important than hats, boots or mittens —- protective eyewear.

More than merely providing protection from a snowball being aggressively aimed at your face, proper snow goggles can prevent an occurrence of photokeratitis.  Also known as snow blindness, this condition happens when the intense ultraviolet rays reflected off the snow combine with those coming directly from the sun.  The effect is sufficient to burn the cornea, causing pain and often visual impairment. For ski enthusiasts, winter hikers, or children who seem able to spend hours playing in the snow without ever feeling the cold, photokeratitis is unfortunately not noticed until many hours after the over-exposure.  Typical symptoms include increased tear production, pain, and a sensation akin to having grains of sand in the eyes.

Fortunately, sunglass companies have risen to the occasion and offer highly protective options for those who plan to spend extended periods of time in the snow, especially on a sunny day or at a high altitude.  Polarized sunglasses are quite effective, as they eliminate both the sunlight reflected off of the snowy surface as well as that coming directly downward from the sky.  In addition to the type of lens, the design of the sunglasses themselves can make a huge difference in their protective value.  Wraparound lenses will confer the greatest amount of protection, since they eliminate the intense glare that can attack the eyes from the sides.

The wintry season can be challenging enough, between shoveling the driveway, balancing on icy sidewalks, and keeping the children from getting bored when the schools are closed!  This year, don’t make eye strain an additional hazard…..buy some appropriate shades and protect your peepers!