HomeDictionarySnow blindness

snow blindness



Snow blindness is a condition that occurs when the eyes are exposed to the intense glare of sunlight reflecting off snow or ice for an extended period of time. It is a common problem in snowy and high-altitude environments, and can be extremely painful and debilitating. Symptoms include blurred vision, eye pain, and sensitivity to light. To prevent snow blindness, it is important to wear proper eye protection, such as sunglasses or goggles, that block out harmful UV rays. In the outdoor world, snow blindness is a significant concern for those engaging in winter activities like skiing, mountaineering, and snowshoeing.


  1. „I remember the first time I experienced snow blindness. It was during a winter camping trip with my friends. We had been hiking all day in the bright, snowy landscape, and I didn't think much of wearing sunglasses. Little did I know that the intense reflection of the sun off the snow would cause such a painful condition.“

  2. „As we set up camp, I started to feel a burning sensation in my eyes. It felt like someone had poured sand into them. I quickly realized that I was suffering from snow blindness.“

  3. „My friends noticed my discomfort and immediately sprang into action. They helped me find a shady spot and brought me a cold compress to soothe my eyes. They also made sure I kept my eyes closed to prevent further damage.“

  4. „After a few hours of rest, my eyes started to feel better. I learned my lesson the hard way and now always carry a pair of polarized sunglasses with me when venturing into snowy environments.“

  5. „Snow blindness is a serious condition that can occur when the eyes are exposed to excessive UV radiation reflected off snow. It can cause temporary vision loss, eye pain, and sensitivity to light. If you ever find yourself in a snowy landscape, make sure to protect your eyes with proper eyewear to avoid snow blindness.“


Snow blindness is a term that originated from the Arctic regions, where the intense reflection of sunlight off the snow can cause temporary blindness. It has its roots in the Inuit culture, where they referred to it as "pimuituq." The word "snow blindness" itself was first used in the English language in the early 19th century.

The condition occurs when the eyes are exposed to bright sunlight reflected off the snow for an extended period of time, causing damage to the cornea and conjunctiva. Symptoms include pain, redness, tearing, and temporary loss of vision.

Over time, the term "snow blindness" has become widely recognized and used in various outdoor and survival contexts. It is an important concept for anyone venturing into snowy or high-altitude environments to be aware of, as proper eye protection is crucial to prevent this condition.


Snow blindness, Photokeratitis, Ultraviolet keratitis, Snow ophthalmia, Snow eye, Snow blindness syndrome, Solar retinopathy, Snow blindness disease


Darkness, Shade, Shadow, Dimness, Obscurity, Gloom, Night, Blackness


Snow, Winter, Snowstorm, Snowfall, Snow goggles, Snowshoes, Snow camping, Snow survival

Historical and cultural importance

Snow blindness, also known as photokeratitis, is a condition that occurs when the eyes are exposed to intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, typically reflected off snow or ice. This condition has a significant historical and cultural relevance, especially in regions with snowy and icy environments.

In the past, snow blindness was a common problem for explorers, mountaineers, and indigenous peoples living in Arctic and Antarctic regions. It affected their ability to navigate and survive in harsh winter conditions. The Inuit people, for example, developed various techniques to prevent and treat snow blindness, such as wearing goggles made from bone or ivory to protect their eyes from the bright sunlight.

During polar expeditions, snow blindness posed a serious threat to the explorers' well-being. Famous explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen had to deal with this condition during their journeys to the South Pole. They used protective eyewear and improvised snow goggles to prevent snow blindness and ensure their survival in the extreme cold.

Today, snow blindness is still a concern for outdoor enthusiasts, winter sports enthusiasts, and those working in snowy environments. Proper eye protection, such as sunglasses with UV filters or goggles designed for snow sports, is essential to prevent snow blindness and maintain clear vision in bright snowy conditions.

Understanding the historical and cultural significance of snow blindness helps us appreciate the importance of protecting our eyes in snowy environments. It reminds us of the challenges faced by those who ventured into the wilderness in the past and the ingenuity they displayed in overcoming such obstacles.

More information about the term snow blindness

Snow Blindness: What You Need to Know

Snow blindness, also known as photokeratitis, is a temporary eye condition that occurs when the eyes are exposed to intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation, typically from sunlight reflecting off snow or ice. It is a common problem for those who spend time in snowy or high-altitude environments without proper eye protection.

Causes and Symptoms

The primary cause of snow blindness is the reflection of UV rays off the snow or ice, which can be up to 80% stronger than direct sunlight. When the eyes are exposed to this intense UV radiation, the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, becomes inflamed and damaged.

The symptoms of snow blindness usually appear within a few hours of exposure and can include:

  • Eye pain and discomfort
  • Redness and swelling of the eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A sensation of grittiness or foreign body in the eyes

Treatment and Prevention

If you suspect you have snow blindness, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your eyes. The following steps can help alleviate the symptoms and promote healing:

  • Get out of the sunlight and into a shaded area or indoors.
  • Keep your eyes closed or covered with a clean cloth to reduce irritation.
  • Apply cold compresses to your eyes to reduce inflammation.
  • Use over-the-counter artificial tears to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can worsen the condition.

To prevent snow blindness, it is crucial to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Here are some tips:

  • Wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.
  • Use goggles or sunglasses with side shields to protect your eyes from reflected UV radiation.
  • Apply sunscreen to your face, including your eyelids and the area around your eyes.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a hood to provide additional shade.


Snow blindness is a temporary but painful condition that can be easily prevented with proper eye protection. Whether you're skiing, snowboarding, or simply enjoying the winter wonderland, make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your eyes safe from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Remember, your eyes are precious, and taking care of them should be a top priority.

Back to overview