According to the World Health Organization, the higher altitude you are at, the less the UV is filtered by the atmosphere. With every 1000 feet you increase in altitude, the UV levels increase by 10 to 12%. Most people know this can do damage to your skin and put on more sunscreen when coming up in altitude. Did you know it can also damage your eyes?
With all the snow we have had this year, it is also important to understand how that will effect your hiking this summer. Snowy environments can reflect up to 90% of the solar radiation that hits its surface. This intense UV and solar radiation can cause both temporary and permanent damage to the eyes. It can cause snow blindness (photokeratits), cataracts, and corneal and retinal burns.
Normal sunglasses are important and they help. However, normal sunglasses have an average of 60-30% of visible light transmission (lower is better in this case). Proper glacier goggles only allow 7-5% visible light transmission....less is better. Glacier goggles also provide up to 100% of frame coverage, so you do not have light bleeding in from the sides or the top of the sunglasses.
Thinking of climbing those 14ers this summer? Don't forget to protect your eyes!! Come on in and check out the several different lines of glacier goggles / julbo sunglasses!