Protecting Your Eyes on Slopes
Eyewear is so important because it protects you from many conditions that can potentially cause serious eye problems. At higher altitudes the atmosphere doesn’t absorb much of harmful ultraviolet light, which can cause photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis (known as “snow blindness”), both reversible, yet very painful conditions. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can contribute to faster development of cataracts and pterygium. Eyewear also protects your eyes from twigs, branches, wind, ice particles and direct impact.
Sunglasses or Goggles?
It’s a matter of personal preference. Goggles generally provide you with a better protection but aren’t as comfortable as sunglasses. They have a larger coverage area and keep your face warm. Goggles are generally better for cold and snowing conditions. They can fog easily, and it is recommended to use anti-fogging solution or get a pair with pre-treated or double lenses and good venting system.
Prescription Goggles and Sunglasses
Prescription goggles are available, but only specialty optical shops offer lenses and prescription inserts for them. Some goggles can fit over small glasses. Prescription sunglass lenses are available at any optical store or optometry.
Polarization is a must-have feature your sunglasses and goggles should have, as it protects you from harmful UVA and UVB rays and glare.
- Yellow, orange or amber lenses are recommended for low light conditions. They block blue light and increase contrast, which allows you to see shapes, objects and bumps more clearly.
- Pink and red lenses increase contrast in any conditions, but they affect color perception. Great for forest areas as they improve visibility of objects against blue and green backgrounds.
- Brown lenses significantly increase contrast of objects against blue and green, they help cut glare in sunny conditions and don’t affect color perception too much.
- Green and gray lenses also don’t distort color and are good for bright light conditions, but they don’t help with improving contrast.
- Some goggles come with interchangeable lenses so you can adjust them according to current light conditions.
- Glass provides great optical clarity, it’s scratch-resistant, but heavy and expensive.
- Acrylic is light and inexpensive, but it’s not a durable material and it isn’t as clear as glass or NXT polyurethane.
- NXT polyurethane lenses are expensive, but they provide great optical quality and impact-resistance.
- Polycarbonate lenses are also impact-resistant and affordable, they are light, provide good optical quality but not scratch-resistance.
Coatings can add such features to lenses as water-resistance and reflectivity (helps with glare). There are also anti-scratch and anti-fogging coatings available. Lenses with coating require extra care, and it is generally a good idea to follow care instructions provided with your goggles or glasses.