If a mini-bike, skis, or snowmobile is on that wish list this year, make sure that everyone who uses them is wearing appropriate sports protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. These are available from your family eye doctor. Sunglasses are not just for lounging by the pool or on the golf course. The greatest danger to the eyes in the winter is ultraviolet light and protecting them is just as important because snow is so blinding.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays, which also cause sunburn, can harm both the lens and cornea, leading to cataracts and other eye damage. Winter conditions make eyes even more susceptible to UV damage. Humidity is lower and eyes can tend to dehydrate. Wind also dehydrates and irritates the eye. The thin clouds and haze of winter also do not absorb UV rays as well as thick, dark, heavy clouds. Those who participate in mountain snow sports are at the greatest risk, because there is more ultraviolet light at higher altitudes. Visit your family eye doctor to find appropriate protective eyewear for snow sports. Ski goggles, for instance, protect the skin around the eyes and the eyelashes, as well as the eyes themselves. This is especially important because the skin of your upper lids is one of the thinnest on the body. The best winter sunglasses are those that include 100 percent UV protection, are polarized to reduce glare, and wrap around to protect the entire eye. If you or a family member does suffer an eye injury, it is important to seek appropriate eye care right away. If possible, call your family eye doctor and carefully follow all of the directions that you are given. The right care rendered in a timely fashion could mean the difference between a life of blindness or sight.