Protecting your Eyes from the Elements
by Eric Donnenfeld, MD
It's not just your knees, butt, and head that you should protect when you
Your eyes can take a beating too!
Eyes can get very dry snowboarding in wind, low humidity and high
altitude. Contact lens use compounds the problem. And too much sun
reflecting off snow can make you temporarily "snow blind." Here are the
obstacles, and how to surmount them, thanks to ophthalmologist Dr. Eric
Dry eye: Outdoor enthusiasts such as snowboarders cannot wait for winter
to arrive each year. For them, it means speeding down the slopes. However,
winterıs cold winds and dry air often irritate the eyes, even in warmer
climates. These harsh conditions cause eyes to be consistently dry and
irritated, especially for people with contact lenses.
Artificial Tears: Having artificial tears on hand can help relieve the
pain associated with dry, red and irritated eyes. It is important to choose
tears that do not contain vasoconstrictors (like Visine) which constrict
blood flow to the eyes and cause rebound redness. Choose saline brands such
as Refresh tears, because products such as Visine enhance the problem rather
than solve it.
Eye Burn: Outdoor lovers may not realize that they spend long periods of
time in intense reflected sunlight. Overexposure to the sunıs powerful
ultraviolet rays without the necessary eye protection can temporarily harm
the eyes or even cause photokeratitis, a condition where sensitive tissues
of the eyeball are burned. Although this condition may heal in time, the
best way to prevent it is to avoid excess UV ray exposure.
Wear sunglasses or snow goggles: Sunglasses which block 85 to 90 percent
of visible light can protect eyes in all sunny weather conditions.
Ski/snowboard goggles, which cover the eyes and the surrounding skin, are
another good option. Goggles work great for snowboarders because they block
harmful sunlight while preventing debris and snow from blowing into the
eyes. (Editor's note - goggles provide some protection to your eyes and
cheeks in case of a "face plant" too.)
Dr. Eric Donnenfeld is recognized as one of the leading refractive
surgeons in the United States. He is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist with
more than 10 years of experience in laser vision correction including LASIK
and PRK; twice as long as any other doctor on Long Island. Dr. Donnenfeld
graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College.
He received his Medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, graduating in
the top five percent of his class. After completing his Ophthalmology
Residency at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, where he served as
Chief Resident, Dr. Donnenfeld completed a fellowship in disease, treatment,
and surgery of the cornea at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.
He practices in Rockville Centre, on Long Island, in New York State.