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Use Protection to Prevent Snow Blindness

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

An article in the Jan. 30, 1903 issue of the Grand Encampment Herald notes: 

When the sun shines bright upon the snow in the spring, many victims are tortured with a dose of snow blind, which is certainly one of the features of dwelling in snow land which is not coveted.

Snow blind is treacherous, lasting and victims seldom fully recover. It is well to take every possible precaution against this calamity, and the man who is jeered because he puts on the black veil for the day’s trip is not so much a fool as the man who trusts his precious eyesight to the elements.

Other newspapers in Wyoming also reported stories of snow blindness. Following are a few.

A large number of persons whose work compels them to be out of doors most of the time have been suffering from snow blindness during the past week or so. Some of the cases have been so serious the sufferer has been compelled to remain in a dark room for several days, reports the March 19, 1912 issue of The Wheatland World.

The Rawlins Republican notes, Jim True, of the Hagland place, is reported as having a severe case of snow blindness.

In an article concerning the disappearance of a young trapper, the Cody Enterprise, in its Dec. 26, 1923 issue reports, many theories are advanced to account for his disappearance, among them the possibility a snowslide may have caught him or he was seized with snow blindness and is groping his way about after losing his footing.

In the April 6, 1876 issue of the Cheyenne Daily Leader it was touted, here is a preventative of snow blindness, according to a traveler, which I heard of when in California in 1873.

I was told anyone having to travel upon snow in sunshine, if they blackened the skin around the eyes for about an inch, snow blindness would be prevented.

Any kind of black paint, or a burnt stick, is all they need to avoid what is most painful, and I can speak of it from experience, having suffered while crossing some of the high passes of the Himalayas.

It was stated to me the old trappers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains used this precaution as a protection to their eyes. It was also stated the same means were used by people connected with the Hudson Bay Company, and they first learned of it from the Native Americans.

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