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Winter sports are a great passion for most people, so they regularly head to mountain resorts. However, skiing can come with unexpected complications associated with extreme mountain conditions.

Snow, wind and intense mountain sun can seriously compromise your eyesight. Good quality sunglasses are therefore an essential part of the skiing equipment, especially at higher altitudes. Pavel Stodůlka, head of the Gemini network of eye clinics, points out, “The sun’s rays reflect off the snow and can be even more damaging to your eyesight than, for example, being by the sea. In the mountains, sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory but it has practical importance. Without them, skiers risk conjunctivitis at best, and eye damage at worst.”

Winter athletes are at risk of ‘snow-blindness’ in sunny weather. This is a severe eye irritation that occurs when the eyes are exposed to excessive UV radiation. “It manifests itself with severe pain and light blindness. A person who suffers from snow-blindness mustn’t rub their eyes, as this could damage the cornea even more. If snow blindness is suspected, a doctor should be consulted, who will prescribe an anesthetic and a soothing eye ointment to relieve the pain. Fortunately, snow blindness goes away after a few days,” explained Pavel Stodůlka.

Some mountain enthusiasts choose contact lenses under their ski goggles as they do not interfere with them. However, this option also carries its risks. Pavel Stodůlka warns, “In freezing temperatures at high altitudes, the cornea can swell and the lens can become frozen to the cornea. This is not a risk in Czech conditions, but in high mountain environments, it is a risk. In addition, the eyes become more dry in such an environment, which is associated with insufficient oxygenation of the cornea and subsequent swelling. The first symptom is that the person sees coloured circles and then blurred vision. In this case, the lenses must be removed as soon as possible and replaced with dioptric glasses. So if people wear contact lenses in the mountains, it’s a good idea to keep the glasses handy at all times.”



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