Snow blindness is caused by exposure of unprotected eyes to bright sunlight reflected off snow or ice. This causes a sunburn of the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye. Snow blindness occurs primarily in at high altitudes in polar regions. The intensity of ultraviolet rays from the sun increases by 5% for every 1,000 feet in elevation.
Signs of snow blindness include teary and bloodshot eyes, eye pain, eyelid swelling, sensitivity to light, and a feeling of grittiness in the eyes. In severe cases, the result may be permanent vision loss.
Treatment is limited. The victim should avoid rubbing the eyes. Remove contact lenses if applicable. Administer pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. An eye patch should be applied with soft dressing. This helps prevent irritation from light and eyelid movement. If possible the victim should rest in a dark room.
We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.