Snow blindness, also known as photokeratitis, is predominately caused by the sun's reflection off of snow. If one is caught out in the wild, ill prepared for snow, what could one find in a temperate forest to help prevent snow blindness?.

Two options I was wondering about are:

  • Improvised No Glare from charcoal/ashes like what professional athletes use. However, I'd question it's ability to block reflection from snow and I'd be worried about getting it in my eyes.
  • An improvised hat, but again I'm not sure that would help much with reflection off the snow.

2 Answers 2


This answer will work only if you have a knife, preferably a multi-tool knife, and are adept at using it. Make a pair of Inuit goggles, as described in Snow Goggles, Wikipedia:

The goggles are traditionally made of driftwood (especially spruce), bone, walrus ivory, caribou antler, or in some cases seashore grass. The workpiece is carved to fit the wearer's face, and one or more narrow horizontal slits are carved through the front. The goggles fit tightly against the face so that the only light entering is through the slits, and soot is sometimes applied to the inside to help cut down on glare. The slits are made narrow not only to reduce the amount of light entering but also to improve the visual acuity. The greater the width of the slits the larger the field of view.

You are right about the limitations of a hat in protecting your eyes from glare from below.

According to Eye Site on Wellness

•Fresh snow reflects as much as 80 percent of UV radiation......... Hats with brims offer no protection from UV rays reflected up from surfaces such as pavement, sand and water.


Good snow goggles as described in ab2's answer take a while to make.

A quick and dirty way for temporary use can be made with bark. Birch bark is probably easiest to work with, but any smooth bark that you can peel off the tree should work. Try alder and aspen, and willow. You may need to make a baton and pound on the tree some to loosen the bark. Don't bother with conifers: Their sap is sticky.

You want a chunk several inches wide by about 15 inches long. Cut a notch on one long edge to fit around your nose. Put narrow slits for the eyes. Initially make them as narrow as possible, then adjust to be in the right place. If using birch bark you want the full outer bark thickness, not the paper-thin fire starter pieces. It will be about ⅛" to ¼" thick.

A hole at either end allows you to attach cord.

This will stay in place a lot better if you have some elastic in the system. A heavy rubber band works well. You may elastic with you in your tent poles or underwear....

In use, the bottom edge is about even with the bottom of your nose, the top is above your eyebrows.

This doesn't stay in place as well as the Inuit goggles do, but takes only a few minutes to make.

Another thing you can do is to pull any coarse knit fabric, such as a balaclava or toque, down over your eyes. If you are using a finer knit, like a tee shirt, you may want to snip small holes in it. Dark fabric is more effective.

If you only have a white tee shirt you are willing to sacrifice, rub charcoal into it.

If you want the anti-glare effect that football players use, mix charcoal powder with any fat source you have.

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