Your eyesight may be endangered by snow, wind, as well as the bright mountain sunshine. The basic skier’s gear should therefore also contain high-quality sunglasses. The winter sun often becomes dangerous for the eyes even more than the summer sunshine. In winter, the sun reflects from snow, which may be more harming for your eyes than a summer seaside stay. The snow cover may increase the level of the UV light by almost 90 percent on the layer of fresh snow, and by 50 percent on older snow. Contrary to this, green grass reflects about three percent of the UV light. In the mountains, the sunglasses thus do not represent only a fashionable accessory, but they are of some practical use and significance. Skiers, in the best case, risk conjunctivitis, in the worst one also a permanent visual impairment.
In sunny weather, winter sportsmen are at an unpleasant complication – snow blindness, which is caused by excessive exposure to the unprotected UV light at higher altitudes where the radiation dose is increased by the reflection of snow. Snow blindness only appears after several hours of severe pain and light sensitivity. It is absolutely necessary for the person affected by snow blindness not to rub their eyes as they could easily damage their corneas. When suspecting snow blindness, you should seek a doctor; the doctor will indicate anesthetics and soothing eye ointment to relieve the pain. Snow blindness will disappear after several days.
About ten percent of Czechs wear contact lenses regularly, but on slopes, there will be also people who usually do not wear contact lenses. The advantage of contact lenses is that they do not interfere under the ski goggles. Even contact lenses bring risks. Under heavy frosts and high altitudes, the corneal swelling can occur and the lens may freeze to the cornea. In Czech conditions this is not a threat, but in the alpine environment the contact lenses can damage the eyes of those who wear them. Eyes become drier in such an environment and an insufficient oxygenation of the cornea and subsequent swelling may occur. The first warning for the skier is that they see color circles and then they experience blurry vision. In such case, remove the lenses as soon as possible and replace them with dioptric glasses. So if people wear contact lenses in the mountains, it is good to keep their glasses at hand.