Frozen corneas Foggy lenses Sporting chance Icy eyelashes Pink eye Snow blindness
6 optical oddities to avoid this winter

Winter can be rough on eyes. Germs, low temperatures, snowballs, icicles. It’s a winter wonderland of vision hazards.

Frozen eyes?

Yup, you read that right. You can freeze your cornea when it’s exposed to extreme cold temperatures and high winds.

What should I do?

If you don’t wear goggles, the outer layer of the eye can actually freeze. To treat, place a warm compress (or hand) over the affected eye. After thawing, eyes should be completely covered with patches for 24 to 48 hours. In most cases, normal vision will return.

Did you know?

In 2004, Doug Swingley quit the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race due to freezing his corneas after removing his goggles to clear the fog from them.

All steamed up

Glasses can fog up, particularly when you wear a scarf that channels your warm moist breath upwards toward your eyes.

Tips and tricks

  • Ask your eye doctor about anti-fog lenses.
  • Select frames that leave more room for circulation.
  • Wear a headband during physical activity to soak up sweat and reduce condensation.
  • Clean the inside of your lenses with a mild detergent such as Dawn® or baby shampoo.
  • Use a commercial anti-fogging spray.

Did you know?

Skiers are known to use an anti-fog lens cleaner called Cat Crap to keep their ski goggles from fogging up.

Don’t lose an eye out there!

Hockey is a fun and action-packed sport, but it’s caused some horrific eye injuries, including eye loss.

How can I protect my eyes?

  • Playing pickup hockey? Wear a full cage or full shield. At the very least, wear a visor.
  • Sport-specific protective eyewear should be properly fitted by an eye care professional.
  • Protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses are recommended for sports that have a high risk for eye injuries.

Did you know?

As of 2013, 73% of NHL players wore visors and they’re now mandatory for all players with less than 26 games of NHL experience.


Icy eyelashes happen. When eyes water and external temperatures are freezing, the water can freeze eyelashes together.

Don’t freak out; do this

Simply place a hand over the affected eye until the ice melts and then re-open the eye.

Did you know?

You can visit a cold sauna that is -167 degrees F to promote overall good health — your eyelashes will surely freeze in there!


Conjunctivitis. If you have kids, you’re familiar with this affliction, also known as pink eye.

What are the do’s and don’ts?

  • Beware of red, itchy eyes with discharge.
  • Wash your hands often and change your pillow cases.
  • Don’t touch your eyes or face with your hands.
  • Don’t wear contacts or makeup.

Did you know?

Pink eye can be caused by the same virus as the common cold.

Yes, you can burn your eyeballs!

More accurately, your cornea. Crazy, but it does happen and more often than you may think. Avid skiers refer to this as snow blindness.

Why, how and who?

Medically known as photokeratitis, this is akin to sunburn of the cornea and is caused by exposure to sunlight reflected from ice, snow or water. It’s comparable to eye damage caused by welding without wearing a welding mask. To prevent snow blindness, wear your sunglasses, especially when skiing.

Did you know?

In 2012, Anderson Cooper suffered from this due to not wearing sunglasses while boating.

Protecting your eyes is snow joke

See your vision care provider if you think you may have an eye issue caused by winter weather.

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