Time to Hit the Slopes

It's the time of year when, at least in the Pacific NW, activities such as boating, golfing, and other warm weather activities switch to Skiing and snowboarding. Now is the time of year to have at least 1 pair of snow goggles on display that can be fit with an Rx adapter. Bolle is one of several manufacturers that offer a good selection of snow goggles, and they are very reasonably priced.


The reflective properties of snow act like a mirror. The harmful UV rays can be very harmful to the eyes if appropriate protective eyewear is not worn during snow activities. Photokeratitis, ultraviolet keratitis, or snow-blindness, whichever term is used, is a very painful eye condition caused by exposure to UV rays from either intense sunlight at high altitudes, or artificial sources (electric arc during welding). Basically, it is a "burning" of the cornea. Symptoms include tearing, pain, redness, swollen eyelids, headache, gritty sensation in the eyes, halos around lights, hazy vision, and, occasionally, temporary loss of vision. Regular sunglasses cannot always provide sufficient protection when surrounded by snow, due to their inability to fully protect the eyes and surrounding areas from UV rays targeting from all directions. Make this a part of your discussion of the lifestyle needs of the patient. Remember, as eye care professionals, we have a duty and responsibility to educate and inform our patients. They come to us for advice, and to take advantage of our expertise.

Lens Color / Polarized or Non-Polarized

As with golfing, polarized, or non-polarized lenses for use on snow is a somewhat personal choice. A polarized lens will provide the clearest vision by eliminating glare. However, under icy conditions, a polarized lens will make patches of ice more difficult to anticipate, by eliminating the glare resulting from the increased reflective properties of solid ice.

When it comes to lens color, as always, grey is neutral and will typically reduce light transmission by a greater amount than any other. Brown, however, provides improved contrast; it helps when defining the topography of the slopes, such as on mogul terrains. A brown, or pink lens color, can be more beneficial under overcast conditions, due to their contrast enhancing properties.

Social Networking

This time of year opens up new opportunities for eyewear sales. Consider posting info on your website and Facebook page about the need for appropriate eyewear protection during activities on the snow. Make sure your patients know that you, a trained and knowledgable professional, can provide all their eye care needs; rather than them "blindly" purchasing their snow goggles from the typically, less-informed, equipment shop personnel up at the mountain lodge.