Are you heading off for some fun on the piste this season? The most common injury suffered whilst skiing is surprisingly, not broken bones, but damage to the eyes caused by the harmful UV rays of the sun. How do you know you are buying the best sunglasses or ski goggles for your protecting your eyes on your skiing trip?
In especially clear atmospheres, even on cloudy days, UV levels are particularly high and the snow laying on the mountain side acts as an effective magnifier of those already high level UV rays.
A real condition, known as , causes severe irritation and discomfort to the eyes and may result in 'snow blindness'. Thankfully this is a temporary condition, but repeated exposure or long term exposure of the eyes to UV rays, significantly increases the risks of cataracts and other degenerative eye conditions.
Essentially you must select a suitable pair of sunglasses or goggles to ensure you have optimal vision and the best eye protection against UV rays.
Best lenses for skiing
Sunglasses and goggles should block out at least 95% of both UVA and UVB rays. Whilst fashionable sunglasses look great après ski, most are not suitable for winter sporting activities and may not withstand the cold. Polycarbonate lenses in specially designed sunglasses will resist cracking and shattering upon impact and are far more suitable.
Large, wide lenses in ski goggles allow for a wider field of peripheral vision, so opt for a pair that give you the best wrap around view. The same goes for sunglasses and look out for distortion in your peripheral vision.
Since UV rays are at the blue end of the light spectrum, the safest lenses should be of an orange or yellow colour, thereby blocking out the blue hues. These colours also improve contrast and cut down on the glare from the sun and reflected light from the snow.
Polarised lenses aren't just for the cinema - on the slopes they filter out glare and cut down reflected light as well.
When buying for your ski holiday the general rule is to look for specifically designed goggles or sunglasses for skiing that block out 95% of UVA and UVB rays, offer a good field of undistorted vision and with either polarised, or yellow or orange coloured lenses.
Dreaded double glazing
If you need to wear glasses to correct your vision and are dreading having to wear a pair of goggles over the top, ask your optometrist to advise you on fitting ski goggles or winter sport sunglasses with prescription lenses. It may not be possible to provide prescription lenses for some wide, wrap around styles, so consider a prescription of contact lenses.
The damage is done
If you do suffer an ice chip to the eye, or snow blindness whilst you're away, seek medical attention as soon as possible and make an appointment with your optician as soon as you return home. Stay out of bright sunlight and try not to rub the eyes. They will already be sore, red and itchy, so resting the eyes as much as possible will speed your recovery.
The professional teams at each of our three practices are there to guide you through the process of choosing lenses as painlessly as possible. Get in touch for any advice you may need prior to your skiing holiday and we will happily help you out with either prescription lenses or contact lenses.