Protecting Your Eyes in Winter

  • BY Matt Souza

winter sunglasses eye protection
Every year when summer rolls around you can use Zenni Optical to save big on your favorite styles of sunglasses. With winter in full swing and the holidays around the corner you probably aren’t considering sunglasses as logical stocking stuffers – but you should!

UV protection is important all year-round, even if you aren’t soaking up serious rays on the beach. We know this may be confusing: if you aren’t exposed to a burning sun all day, why would you need to invest in winter sun protection?

UV and Snow Blindness

UV (or ultraviolet) rays don’t take a break in the winter. In fact, your level of UV exposure can increase in the winter when there’s a fresh layer of snow on the ground. The reason? Snow reflects 80% of the UV radiation from the sun.

Consider this: the percentage of UV radiation reflected by a shimmering sandy beach is between 10 and 20%, meaning your risk of UV exposure quadruples when you’re outside in snowy weather according to the World Health Organization. There’s even a term for the eye damage that can occur due to UV radiation bouncing off of snow: snow blindness. Skiers without winter sunglasses expose their eyes to high levels of UV radiation and risk temporary vision loss with intense eye pain.

Your Eyes Are Sensitive

If it’s overcast you should still protect your eyes when you step outside. Your eyes can become sunburned even if the temperature is low. If you find yourself asking, “my eyes can be sunburned?” The answer is, “Absolutely!” Your eyes are organ, just like the skin that covers your body. Both can experience the effects of sunburn if exposed to harmful rays for prolonged periods of time.

The symptoms of sunburn on the surface of your eyes somewhat differ from the symptoms of a sunburn on your skin, and can be extreme in winter or summer. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology the symptoms of sunburn in your eye (or photokeratitis) include:

  • Pain
  • Blurriness
  • Watery Eyes
  • Redness
  • Headache
  • Swelling
  • Seeing halos
  • Eyelid twitching
  • Temporary vision loss (in rare cases)

Added Risks When Skiing and Snowboarding

When you hit the slopes to ski or snowboard you increase your risk of UV exposure. UV rays are present at a greater concentration as elevation increases. On a mountain slope the combination of a high altitude and a naturally reflective blanket of snow necessitates sunglasses to fight snow glare and prevent eye damage.

While polarized sunglasses are the highest quality product for UV protection, when downhill skiing you should not use polarized lenses. Polarized sunglasses can mask ice patches in the snow, increasing your risk of slipping and sustaining injury. For skiers we recommend going with tinted lenses when purchasing sunglasses for the best possible of eye protection.

Do Your Research

When shopping for winter eyewear check that the sunglasses have 100% UVA/UVB protection. The FDA requires that all sunglasses be labeled with SPF information; don’t order sunglasses that don’t protect you from UV rays.

At Zenni Optical you can choose from a wide selection of frames and modify most lenses during checkout with your prescription and your tint preferences. Transform your favorite Zenni product into an effective pair of sunglasses with just a few clicks!

Stylish Winter Sunglasses

Not sure where to start? When you have our entire product line to choose from the process can be overwhelming. Here are a couple of our favorite winter sunglasses:

winter sunglasses

For women, you can’t go wrong with these sophisticated square sunglasses that come equipped with subtly curved lenses. The wide frames protect every corner of your eye, and the timeless glossy frames are an effortless fashion statement with any tint.

winter aviator glasses

Men can ask Santa for these durable yet lightweight aviator sunglasses that provide maximum visibility and a vintage edge for any outfit. Choose between black frames with gold detailing or a classic tortoiseshell frame.

snowboarding glasses

If you’re looking to hit the slopes or partake in other winter sports, a wrapped frame will help keep your sunglasses snugly on your face with slip prevention. The shape of these sports sunglasses will help shield your eyes from wind.

skiing glasses

Skiers don’t have to compromise on eyewear – these supremely comfortable polarized sunglasses sport a stylish half-rim frame and come in two variations: yellow or blue mirror tint with corresponding yellow or blue stripe detailing along the rim. Step out on the slopes in confidence when you opt for non-prescription sports sunglasses.

When selecting a tint for your sunglasses consider where you’ll be using them. We recommend brown and amber tints for intense white landscapes blanketed in snow; these color tints enhance contrast and depth perception so you don’t stumble or lose your way when it’s bright outside. Yellow tints sharpen clarity, and are ideal for hazy or foggy conditions.

Protect your eyes throughout the winter season with an affordable and eye-catching pair of sunglasses from Zenni Optical.