Traditional Medicine


The most common time of the year to get snow-blindness is early spring. A good preventive measure against it, if one has been outside for a long time, is to wash the eyes with fresh snow or saliva before going inside a warm house. This removes any salt that may be on the eye. If any snow-blindness does occur, one must be sure not to rub the eye, as this could cause permanent damage.

If the snow-blindness is serious, a white film develops on the eyeball. There are several ways to treat this: used tea leaves or raw ptarmigan breast is laid on top of the eyelids (if ptarmigan is used, the patient should not eat any ptarmigan for a while); or mother’s milk or square-flipper seal fat is applied directly on the eye.

A small smooth honing stone or some moss (maniq) can be used to rub the white film off the eye. The most interesting procedure involves tying a hair louse with a piece of hair, and “walking” it over the eyeball. The film sticks to the louse’s feet. Several lice are needed because “lice are small and get tired real fast.” This procedure is no longer used because “we don’t have hair lice anymore.” Flies, with their wings tied down, may also be used in this way.