Preventing Snow Blindness

Drawing of snow goggles
Using goggles–or even sunglasses–can help prevent snow blindness

Winter camping has its own particular set of safety reminders. One of these is preventing snow blindness. Snow blindness may be defined as temporary blindness caused by exposure to sunlight reflected off snow or ice. You can read more about it in your favorite online research site. It’s inflammation of the cornea and is kind of like a sunburn of the eyes, and it can be very uncomfortable.

You can prevent this by wearing sunglasses or snow or ice goggles when you are winter camping. But what if you get caught out in the wilderness with no sunglasses? Follow one (or all!) of these suggestions:

Use campfire ash to darken the spot beneath your eyes.

Eye black is traditionally used in sports (Babe Ruth was said to have used it in the 30’s, though nothing is available to prove it one way or the other) To cut down glare during games. Using ash as eye black may help somewhat if there is nothing else.

Learn how to make snow goggles from this video.


If you don’t like the idea of bark, do you have duct tape?

There is just nothing duct tape won’t do! You will need:

  • duct tape
  • a sharp knife (pocket knife or camping knife)
  • 2 pieces of cord, string or twine about 18″ long

Fold a 6″ to 8″ strip of duct tape end over end until you finish up with a 6″ to 8″ strip five or six layers thick. Then just follow the instructions on the video above.


Remember, if you’re out in the wilderness you can improvise by using leaves or vegetation of some sort–even cloth if you have an extra piece handy. In extreme cases of prolonged exposure snow blindness can become permanent, so do whatever you have to, to reduce the effects of snow or ice glare.

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