Can the Sun Damage My Eyes in the Winter?

Many people would guess they are more likely to get sun damage during the summer instead of winter, but the opposite is true. Protecting your eyes from the sun is just as important during the winter months. Winter weather can create circumstances where your exposure to UV radiation is more likely compared to the summer.

Keep reading to see why you need to protect your eyes during the winter and how to do it.

Why Do You Need to Protect Your Eyes During the Winter?

Winter’s signature style is snow, shorter days, and overcast skies, and these conditions can still cause significant eye damage. Here’s how:

  • Snow reflection: Snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation compared to 15% of dry beach sand. Bright white snow essentially acts like a mirror and reflects UV rays right into your eyes.
  • High altitude: UV exposure increases with higher altitude since the thinner atmosphere can’t block the rays as effectively. When you participate in winter sports, you’re especially prone to damaging your eyes from sun exposure.
  • Changing conditions: Winter weather is not as consistent. The day could start cloudy but brighten up by the afternoon. You might not have brought your sunglasses with you or might simply forget to wear them.
  • Less shade: In the winter, the trees have lost all their leaves. This provides no shade to protect your eyes. You can’t count on clouds to protect you from the sun either, since radiation can still find its way through it.
  • Lower sun: Since winter has shorter days, the sun is more likely to stay lower in the sky. This can create situations where direct sunlight hits your eyes more often throughout the day.

What Can Sun Damage Do to Your Eyes?

Sun damage can potentially cause several issues, including:

  • Snow blindness: Known as photokeratitis, it refers to when you expose your eyes to bright white snow. The rays’ reflections can cause a person to feel temporarily blinded. It may even cause severe symptoms such as blurry vision, headaches, traces of color when something moves, or a burning, itchy feeling in the eyes.
  • Macular degeneration: Macular degeneration causes people to have blurred or lost central vision.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is when your eye’s natural lenses become cloudy and cause blurry vision.
  • Dry eyes: Too much sun exposure can cause dry eyes.
  • Skin cancer: Overexposure to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer, and it could appear on eyelids and surrounding tissue.

How To Protect Your Eyes

Protecting your eyes from damaging UV rays is crucial to keeping your eyes healthy. Here are a few tips to consider to keep your eyes safe year-round:

  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses or a brimmed hat.
  • Never look directly at the sun.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take omega-3 supplements.
  • Use eye drops.
  • Visit your eye doctor regularly for an annual eye exam.

If you’re looking for the best eye care near Lancaster, PA, look no further than Manning, Rommel, and Thode Associates. Our experienced ophthalmologists strive to provide all patients with personalized care and attention. Schedule your annual eye exam today by calling us at 717-393-7980, option 1.