Snow is cold, requires frequent removal from driveways, and makes driving difficult. These aspects of snow make winter the least favorite season for many people. However, for those “in the know” about winter sports, winter is an easily tolerated or even favorite time of the year. The cold temperatures of winter are easily tolerated by engaging in active winter sports and using the proper gear. You can downhill ski, cross-country ski, snowshoe, ice skate, or sled with your kids. Of course, these are just a small sampling of the winter sports available.
When engaging in any of the above activities, eye protection is important. What are you protecting your eyes from? It depends on the conditions and the activity. However, eye damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays is a risk common to all outdoor winter sports involving snow and sun exposure. Snow reflects UV rays into your eyes from many different directions. At minimum, you should wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB. Make sure the sunglasses labeling states this. A pair of dark tinted glasses doesn’t necessarily guaranty UV protection.
In sunny weather, alpine or downhill skiers spend most of their time exposed to direct sunlight. You can’t count on tree cover because most downhill ski centers will not have extensive tree cover on their runs either because of their altitude or by design. The blinding white glare of a ski slope gets in the way of seeing snow texture, bumps, and other skiers.
On the other hand, your exposure to glare is reduced somewhat in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing because of tree cover. But this will depend on where you do these activities. Note that a forest of deciduous trees won’t have any foliage to provide cover from sunlight.
Nike prescription glasses are available with polarized lenses and transition lenses that block glare. Polarized lenses provide excellent clarity in bright sunlight by blocking horizontally polarized light. You will encounter horizontally polarized light whether looking across snow on level ground or down a ski slope. Transition lenses adjust their tint according to the amount of sunlight. This allows you to ski under different lighting conditions with a single set of lenses.
There is some debate about the merits of glasses vs goggles. On the surface, goggles obviously cover the face around the eyes better than glasses and provide a seal that keeps wind and snow out. This would seem an overwhelming advantage except for one thing: for many winter sports and under good weather conditions, goggles are an overkill.
Goggles are bulky, heavy, have fogging problems, and are less comfortable than glasses. In addition, there are fewer prescription goggle choices than prescription glasses. Nike prescription glasses are more multifunctional. Your glasses aren’t just limited to your winter activity.
When are goggles best? If you’re a downhill skier intent on skiing with any kind of speed, goggles are your best bet. This is especially true when the air is cold or when the weather is blustery. Without the protection of goggles, the cold air that reaches your eyes will make them too watery for clear vision. On the other hand, glasses will work fine on a warm day of spring skiing.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are more forgiving, and blurry watery eyes from cold air is less of an issue. That is, unless you choose a poor weather day for your outing with high blustery winds and frigid temperatures. In addition, tree cover immensely blunts this kind of wind exposure. In short, you probably should have goggles for downhill skiing, but you can readily get by with glasses while cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Make sure you avoid these activities on windy days with bitter cold or during blizzards.
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