Winter First Aid: “Mom, I can’t see anything!”

f1610910-7116-4d53-ab2a-f8b879809f59_350_232-(1).jpgNOTE: This article was modified on January 19, 2022.

Asking children to wear sunglasses isn’t just to make them look cooler and cuter. When you go outside to play with your child in the winter, don’t forget that his or her little bright eyes are more sensitive than yours.

In fact, the snow reflects the sun’s ultraviolet rays, thus explaining why looking at snow for long periods of time on a sunny day can hurt your eyes and cause snow blindness. Children are at a higher risk than adults because their crystalline lenses don’t block UV rays as effectively as those of an adult.


How to prevent snow blindness

  • Have children wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays when outdoors in the snow.
  • Install blinds that can be opened and closed to regulate sunlight entering your home or child care setting.

What to look for:

  • Redness
  • Burning sensation
  • Swelling
  • Pain or itchiness in the eyes

The signs and symptoms of snow blindness may vary from mild to severe, and may not appear for several hours.

What to do:  

  • Place the child in a darker environment.
  • Use cool, damp cloths on the eyes to reduce pain and burning.
  • If the child’s vison is affected, seek medical attention.

This post is for information purposes only and does not replace first aid training. For information about Red Cross programs and services or training partners that offer courses in your area, visit our website.
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