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Sunglasses or goggles with adequate UVB protection and equipped with side shielding can help prevent snowblindness.Photokeratitis is a condition in which the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) suffers a burn from ultraviolet B rays (UVB). It is called radiation keratitis also and is sometimes popularly known as snowblindness.

Usually the condition occurs at high altitudes on severely reflective snowfields, but it can occur with a solar eclipse.

Artificial sources of UVB have been known to cause photokeratitis as well: these include a welders arc (known in the trade as arc eye), carbon arcs, lighting, halogen desk lamps, sun tanning beds and photographic flood lamps.

The symptoms of photokeratitis include pain, swollen eyelids, grittiness, blurred vision, tearing, redness, headache, halos around lights and temporary loss of vision. The appearance of these symptoms can be delayed for up to 6-12 hours after exposure to the UVB.

Treatment usually is a few drops of ophthalmic antibiotic solution prescribed by an eye care practitioner and then keeping the eye closed with patches. Vision is restored in about 18 hours and the damaged surface of the cornea usually regenerates in 24 to 48 hours.

Prevention always is better than cure and sunglasses or goggles with adequate UVB protection, equipped with side shields, are essential.


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