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Sunburned Eyes? Beware of Snow Blindness!

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Playing outside in a snowy winter wonderland can be magical. Under clear skies in the sunshine, the soft white landscape becomes just about irresistible, whether at home or travelling on a winter-weather get-away. 

Before you let your children run outside to build the most adorable snowman or fling themselves onto the ski slopes, make sure their eyes are well protected. Sun and snow can be a dangerous combination for both the eyes and skin. 

Sunlight Reflected in the Snow

We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season. 

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun. 

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Can I Get Sunburned Eyes?

As you may have already guessed, yes —it is possible to get sunburned eyes. The condition is called snow blindness, or photokeratitis. Although most people do not actually experience permanent vision loss, photokeratitis is usually painful, causes extreme sensitivity to light, and can take up to two weeks to fully heal. 

A single day of playing outside in the snow and being exposed to intensive sun glare can be enough to cause snow blindness— though usually with a delay of several hours following sun exposure. What’s worse, if the eyes are repeatedly sunburned there is a risk of long-term damage. 

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

Just like a typical skin sunburn appears only after having been exposed to the sun’s rays, the same is true for the eyes. One sign of overexposure to UV is a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes, or a feeling of having sand in your eyes after a day spent in the snow. 

When eyes are sunburned, they become highly sensitive to light, making it difficult to be outside. Other symptoms include blurred vision, watery eyes, and swollen eyelids. In rare cases, photokeratitis can even cause temporary vision loss, but it doesn't usually last longer than a day or two.

How Do I Protect My Eyes From Sunburn?

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. An even more effective solution for winter activities is to strap on a pair of well-fitting UV protective sports eyewear, such as ski goggles. Wrap-around styles are ideal because they stay on even when you're active, and block the sun’s rays from entering your eyes from the sides too. 

For winter sports lovers, there are plenty of good reasons to wear protective eyewear, and what works well in sports can be good for play as well. 

How Can I Treat Sunburned Eyes?

It’s after the fact, and you’re suffering from photokeratitis… now what? Give your eyes a rest. 

  • Stay out of the sun for a few days until the symptoms die down. 
  • You may find it comforting to wear sunglasses even when indoors. 
  • For additional relief, place a cool, damp cloth over the closed eyelids while resting.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses until the eyes return to normal. 
  • Artificial tears can help keep the eyes moistened, soothe discomfort and promote healing. However, it's important to consult an eye doctor before running to the pharmacy, since some eye drops are not well-suited for this condition. You can give us a call at .

Now that you know the risks and precautions to take, you’re all set to enjoy the winter wonderland! Dr. Jeffrey Yonker at TSO Cedar Park is happy to help you protect yourself and your family from snow blindness, and offers expert treatment for sunburned eyes. 


A Message to Our Patients

Our patients’ eye care needs are and always have been our top priority. With all that is happening, we are OPEN to help serve our patients. During this difficult time, we have made a few adjustments to our services and availability to ensure the health and safety of you, our staff and our Doctors.

For the Protection of Our Patients,
we have implemented the following procedures in our clinic:

Thank you for your support and understanding during these unprecedented times.

We hope to be able to continue to provide excellent care and service.

Welcome to Texas State Optical Cedar Park

 
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Call 512-233-6204 ▸

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Welcome to Texas State Optical Cedar Park

Our Location

401 West Whitestone Boulevard, Bldg B200
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Office Details

401 West Whitestone Boulevard, Bldg B200
Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Closed
  • Closed

Saturday hours available by appointment only.

We Accept:

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Our Reviews

Dr. Yonker was by far the best eye doctor we have seen. He was extremely thorough in providing multiple options to help hinder my daughters vision from getting worse and providing cost efficient options at that. The staff was also very attentive and helpful in answering all our questions. HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Me and my husband will be returning for ourselves, as well!
3 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
I have gone to see Dr. Yonker several times and he is very professional and Courteous. He is very Knowledgeable and keeps you informed as to what is doing on during your visit. I have never had an issue, and i have referred many of my friends to this office!
3 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
I went in for a eye exam and was not disappointed. The staff here are very friendly also so helpful. Dr Jeffery was extremely helpful and got to the bottom of my vision issues. I highly recommend people coming here.
3 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
Everyone was very knowledgeable of their position. I felt taken care of and all my concerns were addressed. I did not get glasses this day, but they have a nice variety. There office is clean and smells nice.
3 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
The staff are very courteous and helpful, and the Dr. very thorough and helpful.
4 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
This was my son's first ever eye exam. The staff (front desk and beyond) treated him with so much care and attention. They were awesome with him and put him at ease throughout the visit. Dr. Yonker was kind and thorough and explained everything to my son so that he felt important and involved. We will definitely come back.
4 months ago
5
eye doctor's office
All the staff were very helpful with eyewear selection. Very satisfied with everything, especially updates to prescription recommendations by Dr. Yonker.
4 months ago
5
eye doctor's office