The dangers of snow blindness

It can occur on sunny days after new snow has fallen

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After the snowstorm Thursday it was a nice winter’s day, with the sun shining down on the new white snow, but the reflection of the sunshine off the fresh snow could lead to problems with your vision.

“One thing is snow blindness which is ultraviolet damage from reflections off the bright snow. We’re relatively closer to sea level so it’s not as common here as if you’re at altitude people who are mountaineering will get this a lot more,” said Dr. James Rosenthal an ophthalmologist in Springfield.

Snow blindness occurs as a result of a burn to the clear front surface of the eye known as the cornea. Symptoms can include pain, redness, hazy vision and even a temporary loss of vision.

You can treat it with lubrication and in a mild case you can just go to the drug store get artificial tear preparation in a more severe case a patient may need to be patched with topical ointments.

The term used to describe the amount of sunlight reflected by snow is known as albedo. The albedo will be higher for new fresh white snow and it will be lower for older dirty snow.

The albedo of snow drops quickly after a storm due to sand and salt from the roads and pollutants in the air.

To protect yourself from snow blindness you should wear sunglasses or a hat with a brim.

More Information:
Local Forecast Severe WX Text Alerts
Temperatures Severe WX Email Alerts
Weather News Live Area Webcams
Interactive Radar Winter Safety Checklist