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Your Family Eye Care Center – Located in the plaza of Walgreens & JCPenney

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Home » What’s New » Don’t Let Snow Blindness Ruin Your Winter Vacation

Don’t Let Snow Blindness Ruin Your Winter Vacation

While most people have sunglasses high on their packing list for a tropical vacation, many people don’t consider it as much of a priority for colder climate getaways. But they should, and here’s why:

Wintertime vacations often include activities that involve snow and ice and in general, conditions that can lead to overexposure to UV rays from the sun. Without proper eye protection, this can lead to photokeratitis or snow blindness, a condition that results in pain and temporary vision loss.

Photokeratitis is essentially a sunburn on the eye which occurs when the eye is exposed to invisible ultraviolet or UV rays, from the sun or other sources such as sun lamps or tanning beds. It mainly affects the cornea, the curved outermost surface of the eye that plays a role in your ability to focus, and the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. It causes inflammation, pain and sometimes a temporary loss of vision.

Despite its name, snow blindness doesn’t occur exclusively in the snow. It can happen in any environment in which UV rays are strongly reflected including water, sand or ice as well. It is also more common in high altitudes where the sun’s ultraviolet rays are stronger and the air is thinner, which is why skiing and mountain climbing can even be more risky than summertime activities on a lower altitude. Snow and ice reflect more UV light than almost any other surface, but you don’t always feel or notice the strong glare, making snow blindness a silent winter hazard that can only be prevented by awareness.

Symptoms of Snow Blindness

Unfortunately, just like any sunburn, you usually don’t notice the symptoms of snow blindness until the damage has already been done. Symptoms usually occur several hours after the activity, so one may not realize that they were caused from snow blindness.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Grittiness
  • Tearing
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Glare or Halos
  • Blurry Vision
  • Watery Eyes
  • Swollen Eyes or Eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Temporary Vision Loss

Any vision loss that does occur will usually return with in a day or two, but the greater the exposure to the UV rays, the worse the damage that is done.

How Is Snow Blindness Treated?

There is little to do to treat photokeratitis. Just like a sunburn elsewhere on the body, it eventually heals on its own. There are however, some steps you can take to find relief from the symptoms which include:

  • Stay indoors, in a dark area until the eyes become less sensitive.
  • Wear sunglasses if it helps.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Remove contact lenses.
  • Apply preservative-free artificial tears to add moisture.
  • Use a cold compress to soothe your eyes.
  • Try over-the-counter pain relief or antibiotic eye drops according to your eye doctor’s advice.

If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve within 24 -48 hours, contact your eye doctor immediately.

Tips to Prevent Snow Blindness

Snow blindness is actually very preventable and all it takes is a good pair of sunglasses or sports goggles. Any time you are outside, rain or shine, you should wear 100% UV blocking sunglasses. That’s right, the sun’s powerful UV rays can even penetrate clouds on an overcast day.

If you are involved in sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing or water activities consider a pair of wrap-around sunglasses or sports goggles with shields to prevent the rays from entering from above and through the sides. Wearing a hat or helmet with a brim will also help to increase protection.

Whether you are going North, South or somewhere in between, make sure to pack your shades and protect your eyes so you have an eye-safe, fun and enjoyable vacation.

In the wake of the latest recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, we wanted to make you aware of new procedures taking place at Maple Grove Vision Clinic, effective immediately.

HOURS OF OPERATION: We will be open Monday to Thursday 12PM -4PM and we will be closed on Fridays. If you currently have a scheduled appointment outside those hours, our staff will contact you to see how we can best meet your needs.

EMERGENCY VISION ISSUES: It’s extremely important not to neglect your vision needs during this time, so please don’t hesitate to call to schedule an appointment during the above hours in the event of injury, redness, discharge, possible infection, etc.

ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS: Currently, we are scheduling for routine exams for *after* April 6th. If you have a routine appointment already scheduled between now and April 6th, our staff will be contacting you to discuss your needs and how we can best meet them.

GLASSES OR CONTACTS (PREVIOUS ORDERS): You’ll get a call from our front desk (as always) when your glasses or contacts are ready for pickup, and you can stop in during our open hours (above) to pick up your orders. We can arrange free shipping as needed, although glasses are always best when we can fit them to you, in-person. Please call to discuss options.

NEED MORE CONTACTS? We need your business in order to stay in business, and we’re happy to re-fill orders for contacts and ship directly to your home for free.  Just call during our business hours to order or you can also go to our website www.maplegrovevisionclinic.com to order as well.

HOW TO REACH US: Call 763-420-8030 during business hours, or email us at drfrick@maplegrovevisionclinic.com

The health and safety of our patients has always been a top priority. As a reminder, here are the actions we take whenever a patient is in our office:

ONGOING SAFETY MEASURES:

NEW SAFETY MEASURES:

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Please do not come in to our office if you’ve traveled out of the country in the last 14 days, have any symptoms of flu-like or respiratory illness, or have had known contact with anyone who has exhibited such symptoms or tested positive for the coronavirus. As noted above, we are happy to ship any orders directly to your home, or work with a family member to make sure your vision needs are being met.

We will continue to give (and follow) recommendations based on the evidence we have on safe delivery of eye care in a time of uncertainty.  We appreciate your continued support and understanding.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott A. Frick and staff at MGVC

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Dear Patients- Our hours during this medical emergency are: Monday to Thursday 12PM -4PM and we will be closed on Fridays.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.