How to make the right ski eyewear choice
For anyone going skiing, snowboarding or even walking at high altitude it’s essential to wear goggles or good quality sunglasses because on mountains the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are easily underestimated, with a high risk of sunburn and ultimately skin cancer (including cancer of the eyelids) and eye cataracts. Because mountain air is cool, it gives a false sense of security about the sunlight. But the higher the altitude, the greater the ultraviolet radiation (UVR), because there is less atmosphere to screen out the harmful rays. Research has shown that eyes can receive up to 2.5 times more UVR on mountains than at sea level. Even when the eyes are turned away from the sun, they can still get over 85 per cent more UVR on snow. This can cause conditions such as snow blindness, which can lead to inflammation and cataracts.
As the eye cannot see UVR, good quality goggles and sunglasses have an important function in blocking UVR. Wearing cheap eyewear with no UV filters poses an even greater danger than wearing none at all because the pupils will dilate allowing more harmful rays into the eye. So always ensure the goggles or sunglasses you buy are UV400 rated providing the maximum protection from harmful UVR and are CE marked. It’s also worth noting that the lens colour and tint has nothing to do with the UV protection as the UV filter applied to lenses is actually clear. So lighter coloured lenses like orange and rose can still be UV400 rated.
Goggles or sunglasses?
20 years ago more skiers wore sunglasses than goggles but the huge growth of snowboarding coupled with greater awareness of the risk of head damage has meant the reverse is now true – now the majority wear goggles. By necessity helmets are worn by all snow boarders and more progressive, accomplished skiers tackling challenging snow runs and going off-piste. And helmets and goggles go together.