Heading to the slopes?

Remember to pack sun protection for your eyes advises Multimedia Clinical Editor, Ceri Smith-Jaynes

Planning a ski trip can take considerable forethought: how close is the chalet to the ski-lift? Will there be hundreds of bambinos skiing through my legs, putting my technique to shame? Is this hat on-trend or ridiculous? (Answer: it’s both). But there are a few more things to consider before you hit the runs...

On a sunny day, at altitude and on snow, your eyes are exposed to ultraviolet rays (UV) and extreme brightness, so sun protection is a must for all skiers. Choose polarised lenses, which will, not only cut out the damaging UV rays, but also reduce glaring reflected light from the white snow – making a sunny day more comfortable and help you to see the contours of the piste. 

When you’re skiing, every day and even hour can produce changing weather conditions and the light differs from one side of the mountain to the next. ‘Flat light’ is when the sky is cloudy and grey and the shadows on the ground disappear. It can be quite disorientating, but luckily, amber or yellow lenses in your sunglasses or goggles will help you pick out the bumps and moguls.

If you’re a spectacle wearer, wrap-around sports sunglass lenses can be made to prescription, so you can benefit from the clearest vision and block wind and side light. What’s more, an anti-fog coating will help stop them steaming up, and polycarbonate lenses won’t smash if you wipe out.

And you can’t beat contact lenses for sport. Ideally, contact lenses for skiing will have UV protection and be very permeable to oxygen (because the air is thinner at high altitude) whilst retaining moisture well. You’ll be going from rushing wind in your face to a warm, dry chalet so make sure you have the best contact lenses available. Try to blink more often when you’re speeding down the black runs or your eyes will water. Daily disposable lenses are the easiest thing to take on holiday as there are no solutions to carry with them.

Short-sighted people may also be able to correct their vision overnight with orthokeratology contact lenses. These are worn at night and removed in the morning, so you can be free of glasses or lenses during the day. 

Finally, enjoy yourself. Stay off the gluhwein at lunch, and wear that silly hat with pride.

Read ‘Top tips for healthy eyes’ for more information on looking after your eyes.

Ceri Smith-JaynesCeri Smith-Jaynes is OT’s Multimedia Clinical Editor and is an optometrist in independent practice in Lancashire