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Will regular polarized sunglasses protect me against snow blindness? And if not what type of glasses/goggles will protect me?

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3 Answers 3

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Regular polarized sunglasses are usually meant for drivers of cars, as these glasses, in addition to darkening the sky, also suppress glare/reflections.

If you travel in snow, light will come from all different angles and directions and will therefore be polarized in all kinds of directions, so a mere polarizer will not filter a sufficient amount of light. I learned this the hard way...

So in addition to a polarizer, any goggles you use in the outdoors should have something that darkens independent of orientation. How much depends on where you want to go. Just in the mountains where there is some snow, or onto glaciers and ice fields where you'll see nothing but snow for days. I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but I know that the goggles I use for trekking are so dark that I'm not allowed to wear them while driving (some 99% reduction, I believe). This is something people in an outdoors store should be able to explain to you.

Another very important thing to watch out for is stray light. What I also learned the hard way is that clip-on sunshades for your regular glasses let too much light in from the sides. You want to make sure that once you wear your goggles, any light that reaches your eyes must travel through the glasses. Again, on a glacier or in snow, light comes from all directions. Serious expedition-style goggles therefore look a bit like old pilot's goggles, with leather at the sides preventing any stray light from sneaking in.

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Regular sunglasses should give you protection from snow blindness, so long as they protect against UV radiation. How well they protect you is dependent on how well the lenses cover your eyes, and how well the lenses or coatings filter or deflect UV radiation.

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Emphasis on "how well they cover your eyes" :) On the snow, the reflection from below comes from a lot of angles, so tightly fitted glasses are key. –  Ryley Jan 24 '12 at 22:39

Any sunglasses or will help protect against snow blindness. UV protection is highly recommended.

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