When the days are cloudy and cold, sunglasses are probably the last thing on your mind. But winter eye protection can prevent painful temporary conditions and permanent eye damage.

Why do I need winter eye protection?

Did you know your eyes can get sunburned in the winter? Snow and ice reflect 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding or working outdoors, UV rays strike from every angle, even on cloudy days.

UV exposure can cause a painful condition called photokeratitis, or “snow blindness.” Reporter Anderson Cooper recently experienced temporary vision loss from this condition. He was on the water, but strong glare from any source can cause symptoms.

Protecting your eyes in winter can prevent or slow down other eye conditions, including:

  • Cataracts
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Cancer and other growths
  • Wrinkles around the eyes

Can cold temperatures affect my eyes?

Yes. Exposure to cold can cause eye pain, blurred vision and other vision problems. The cornea (front of the eye) can freeze if your eyes are not protected from extreme cold.

Eye safety for winter sports

Learn what researchers know about eye protection for skiers and snowboarders.

Sunglasses — trendy designer sunglasses, polarized sunglasses, polycarbonate sunglasses designed for winter sports or other sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays — protect your eyes from glare. Wraparound sunglass styles provide the best eye protection. Ski goggles protect against glare, cold and wind, and you can get prescription ski goggles.

If you run, fish or do other outdoor activities in winter, you need protective eyewear. Many outdoor surfaces, including concrete and water, can reflect enough UV light to cause eye damage.

When is winter eye safety most important?

The risk of eye damage is highest in late winter and early spring, when days are getting longer. UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 3 pm, further south and at higher altitudes. Popular health site WebMD explains.

In the Pacific Northwest, you might not need sunglasses on most winter days. But our weather changes rapidly, so keep sunglasses handy. If you wear prescription sunglasses, consider a pair for the car or boat.

Get winter eye protection

Learn how to buy the right sunglasses and learn about polarized lenses, including the new Transitions Vantage lens.

Do kids need winter eye protection?

UV rays can damage young eyes more easily than adult eyes, and UV exposure builds up over a lifetime. Especially for playing in the snow, make sure your kids’ sunglasses block 100 percent of UV rays.

For kids and teens, sunglasses that look good and fit well can make the difference between wearing eye protection and risking damage. The Lake Oswego Sight Shop has one of our biggest selections of frames for kids, including sunglasses.

Sunglasses for winter eye safety

The Sight Shop offers sunglasses for every budget, including Oakley, Maui Jim and Ray-Ban. We also offer prescription lenses for sports goggles.

Questions about winter eye safety? Contact us and keep your eyes safe this winter!

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