Snow Blindness / Arc Eye

Snow Blindness / Arc Eye

About Snow Blindness / Arc Eye:

Snow blindness is a fatal eye disease which is caused due to loss of vision. Snow blindness is associated with inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva which is very dangerous and causes temporary or permanent blindness to the eyes. If your eyes are insufficiently protected to the ultraviolet rays from either natural or artificial sources then you are likely to get infected with snow blindness. Snow blindness has many names like Arc eye, Photokeratitis or ultraviolet keratitis etc. The infection of snow blindness occurs after several hours of exposure. If your eyes are infected from the ultra violate rays then you are likely to get infected with this disease. This disease is turned fearsome as it directly damages the retina of the eye. You have to protect your eyes before exposing any such ultra violate situation. Welding goggles with proper filters, a welder's helmet, and sunglasses are usually considered for sufficient UV protection in such cases. Protection of your eyes from such ultra violate rays are the most important prevention of this disease because once the disease attacks you; it is very tough to get rid of it.


ICD-10 H16.1
ICD-9 370.24
DiseasesDB 31147
eMedicine emerg/759

Symptoms of Snow Blindness / Arc Eye:

The main symptoms of snow blindness or arc eye are, getting pain like having sand poured into the eyes which cause to form intense tears. Therefore, eye itching develops rapidly. The feeling of eyelid twitching is also considered as the foremost symptom of this disease. The feeling of discomfort from bright light is also one of the most important symptoms of this disease. The severe pain in eyes is also a symptom of this disease. The infected person will face symptoms after 36 hours of infection. It may take from 96 to 128 hours for the reaction.

Treatment of Snow Blindness / Arc Eye:

The main important treatment of snow blindness or arc eye is using anesthetic eye drops to get relief from pain at the initial stage. Usage of the anesthetic eye drops in the eyes may lead to fearsome situation like corneal ulceration and therefore, doctors will examine the skin sensitivity and then only the drops can be used. Usage of cool and wet compresses over the eyes and artificial tears are the best way of getting relief from the pain. The patients can continue the same after treatment is over because the usage of cool and wet compresses ultimately keeps the eyes calm.

The most important drug of snow blindness or arc eye is Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is widely used. This drug can lessen inflammation and eye pain. Most importantly, doctors also provide oral pain medication if the patient sustains discomfort.

Some of the precautionary steps can be advised if you suspect to pursue snow blindness or arc eye

  • If you wear contact lenses then you have to remove it as soon as possible because the lenses can increase the harm to the cornea.
  • Do not rub the eyes even if you feel itchy.
  • Always use of cold damp compresses to take the sting out of the burn as this is the best way to get little relief from pain and burning sensation.
  • Wear sunglasses and give protection to your eyes before going to the physician.

Causes of Snow Blindness / Arc Eye:

People who are usually infected with snow blindness or arc eye are welders. If welders do not have adequate eye protection such as an appropriate welding helmet or welding goggles, they will certainly get the disease. The common cause of infection of this disease is the ultra violate rays to the naked eyes. Most importantly, there are some natural causes also to have infection of snow blindness or arc eye like bright sunlight reflected from snow or ice which can affect the eyes. Sometimes the bright light from sea or sand can also affect the eyes. According to a study, it has been found that fresh snow reflect has about 80% of the UV radiation and therefore it is very dangerous.

Snow Blindness / Arc Eye Types:

Snow blindness or arc eye has no other types, as the treatment of this disease is same for all other terms.  Snow blindness or arc eye has many different terms which are - welder’s flash, bake eyes, corneal flash burns, flash burns, niphablepsia, or keratoconjunctivitis photoelectrica.