Snow Blindness

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Snow Blindness is a painful condition caused by excessive exposure of ultra-violet (U.V.) light to the cornea of the eye.

As its name suggests, the term "snow blindness" is used to refer to situations in which excessive exposure of ultra-violet light to the cornea is caused by light being reflected from snow, often wide expanses of snow-covered mountains, as encountered on skiing and snow-boarding holidays.

Snow Blindness may be prevented by the use of appropriate eye-protection, that is spectacles or sports goggles with sufficient UV protection for the environment.

It is interesting to note the proportion of UV light reflected by common environmental surfaces, i.e.

  • Fresh snow reflects approx. 80% of UV radiation,
  • Sea foam typically reflects approx. 25% of UV radiation, and
  • Dry sandy beaches typically reflect approx. 15% of UV radiation.

Snow blindness may be thought of as "sunburn of the cornea and conjunctiva", and may not become apparent for several hours after exposure. Eye-protection against solar UV radiation is therefore especially important when participating in "Winter Sports" involving snow-covered landscapes.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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