Did you know that skiers and snowboarders face a higher risk of eye damage on holiday than from injuries to their arms and legs?
The high levels of damaging ultra-violet (UV) light can cause the equivalent of sunburn of the eyes. Although only temporary, this can cause serious discomfort and in severe cases snow-blindness can happen. The reason UV rays is stronger on ski-slopes are that at high altitude the atmosphere is very clear and snow also reflects UV light very well, which makes the problem worse. Longer term, exposure to UV light can cause cataracts and even eye cancer to develop. Thankfully, taking care of your eyes by wearing the right protective sunglasses or goggles prevents this happening so Monnow optometrists advise choosing the correct eyewear.
Look for sunglasses or goggles that protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB, preferably those that block at least 95% of UV rays.
Remember that most summer sunglasses are unlikely to be suitable for skiing because winter sports glasses are made from more pliant materials that withstand the cold and resist breaking or shattering on impact.
We recommend polycarbonate lenses. Although they cost slightly more they are highly resistant to shattering and filter out a large proportion of UV light without additional coatings.
Think about peripheral vision if you plan to go ski-ing. Ideally you should be able to see 180 degrees so look for goggles with large, wide lenses, or wrap- around sunglasses Side shields are often included so that wind and snow are kept away from the eye area.
Yellow-orange or rose lens colours, known as ‘blue-blockers’ enhance contrast and will improve your vision, while also cutting out glare from the sun. Polarised lenses also filter out glare and reflected light.
Check that the fit is good and take the time to adjust the strap on your head. Some styles have softer, more rubbery buckles that won’t dig into your scalp. Wider bands are more comfortable than narrow ones and foam inserts keep out wind, ice and dirt.
If you need eyesight correction, you may find that it is not always practical to wear goggles over your normal glasses. Ask about goggles or sunglasses with prescription lenses, but remember that some of the larger, wrap-around lens shapes in sunglasses may not be available with vision correction. In these cases, consider wearing contact lenses for eyesight correction so you can choose the goggles or sunglasses you prefer.
A scratch-resistant coating will help your goggles and sunglasses to last longer. Keep them in a soft pouch or lined case when you’re not using them.
If you do suffer from snow blindness while skiing your eyes will probably be red, itchy and sensitive to light. It will help to stay indoors and rest your eyes but if the symptoms persist you should see an optometrist as soon as possible.
So, if you are planning a ski trip this winter, it’s a good idea to get some expert advice about U.V. protection. Lesley and Emily at Monnow Eyecare are always happy to help you make the right choices. Booking a consultation is easy, just call us on 01600 715299.