Newest Review: ... had to take the other pair with me as well as, whenever we stopped for refreshments at a mountainside restaurant, it was too dark inside f... more
Put skiing in the shades
Eradicator Sun Shields
Member Name: grahamt
Eradicator Sun Shields
Advantages: Protects against the sun and the wind
Disadvantages: You have to buy other goggles you probably don't need
Recently we were skiing in Vars in France (review to come). This was a new destination to us and it turned out to be a good one. Being one of France's most southerly ski resorts it does have an enviable sun record. However, this is as a result of clear cloudless skies and so overnight temperatures plummet, affecting daytime temperatures such that they were regularly around -6C every day for most of the day.
Now, that causes problems. Obviously the biggest requirement is to ensure good, warm clothing is used. But, the biggest problem is the eyes. Racing down a ski slope at up to 50mph, even in the best conditions, can cause the eyes to stream. In these conditions it's virtually guaranteed, unless you are wearing goggles. Most people around us were.
There I have a problem. I wear glasses. Now, you may think, “Problem solved”. Well, Yes and then again No.
The problem probably would be solved if I wore contact lenses. My wife does and with them she uses a pair of proper wrap-round ski sun glasses, and very fetching they are too. I have never managed to adopt contacts and so I still use ordinary glasses, probably always will.
So, don't ordinary glasses do the job? Some do, some don't. Mostly the problem surrounds the changing fashion in the design of glasses. Some years ago I used to wear the really large lens glasses that were then fashionable, not that I'm a fashion slave I hasten to add. I had two pairs made, one with standard clear lenses, one with the darkest brown sunglass coating possible.
These glasses were single magnification lenses and did me well for many years. I skied in the sunglasses and their size proved a quite effective solution in all but the worst conditions. Unfortunately I had to take the other pair with me as well as, whenever we stopped for refreshments at a mountainside restaurant, it was too dark inside for the sunglasses.
Now, I know what you're going to say, “What about photoreactive lenses?” Yes indeed, and that's what I converted to when the time came for a new set of glasses. As with most people my age, the eyesight starts to get weaker so that a single magnification is not capable of dealing with long-distance and also close reading. In my case the situation is worse still as I work in the computer industry and use a computer screen most of the day. The screen is positioned just that awkward distance between long and reading and so I need triple focus lenses as well.
The glasses I have been using for a while now are photoreactive brown and in the more popular modern smaller lenses. You can (just about) see what they look like on my profile. These are fine for everyday use. They are reasonably effective also for skiing. The problem occurs in less than ideal conditions. Because of their smaller size they don't provide the same degree of protection as my old larger glasses. The wind manages to creep around the edges of the frames and cause the eyes to water. True, it isn't as bad as no glasses at all but it is still a problem.
So, the answer would seem to be ski goggles. In ordinary circumstances I would agree. However, as a wearer of glasses, goggles pose a problem. I know you can get goggles that fit over glasses; I have a pair. The problem is, and I don't know if this is just a problem with me, I find that when wearing goggles my glasses are continually fogging up. I have even tried the “non-fogging” type of goggles. Sure enough, the goggles don't fog but the glasses still do.
Five years ago, in Val d'Isere, I found the perfect solution. In a sports shop there I came across what were very clearly a pair of safety goggles, similar to the type you can find on DIY outlets like B&Q, for around £2 or £3. These are usually clear polycarbonate plastic or yellow. The difference with the ones I found in France were that they were brown. I had never before seen a pair in brown plastic. They were perfect.
The design had large lenses that covered a large area around the eyes and fitted closely around the nose. The top edge across the top of the lenses had a ledge that eliminated the gap between the lenses and the brow above the eyebrows. This prevents the wind getting in that way. The side arms were very wide at the hinge, narrowing down to the over-ear section and had louvres facing backwards for ventilation.
Now, I know I keep saying “had” and this is the problem. I lost them. Ever since I have been on a quest to replace them. The search has been well-nigh impossible. Oh, it's easy to find safety glasses to this design, clear ones, yellow ones and even black ones on occasion. I even found an outlet in Hong Kong that could provide red ones! What has been virtually impossible to find is the brown ones.
So, why am I on a quest for brown goggles? It's a personal thing. Sure, the yellow or, better still, the black versions would work. It isn't just a matter of keeping out the wind; it's also a question of preventing snow-blindness due to the sun reflection off of the snow, so coloured lenses are essential.
Black will certainly do the job very effectively. I should be able to use clear lenses, given that the glasses underneath are photoreactive. However, there seems to be something about the plastic that prevents them working effectively. I've noticed that they also don't work in the car. Anyway, the whole combination also looks somewhat strange.
Brown is just my favourite colour for sunglasses, especially when I am wearing them for long periods. Black lenses just gives everything such a depressing grey appearance. Brown, on contrast, gives everything such an optimistic golden hue that just gives you such a feeling of well-being. As I say, it's a personal thing.
After a search that lasted nearly a year, finally, almost by accident, I found a UK outlet from which I could obtain a pair of goggles that could replace my long-lost French pair. The outlet is Health & Home Shopping (www.hhspress.co.uk). I discovered that they sell a pack of safety goggle that includes a brown pair. True, you also have to buy a clear, yellow and black pair as well but at less than the price I originally paid for the pair I bought in France (there 15 Euros, here £9.95) they're a bargain. You will find them on this page at the website: http://www.hhspress.co.uk/main.asp?Month=October. You will find the site quite slow due to the amount of Java code included on their webpages. However, it's worth the effort.
You will likely find that delivery times are longer than stated. They suggest 10 working days. In my experience they actually took nearly three weeks to arrive. They were shipped out of Guernsey whereas Health & Home Shopping are based in Manchester.
The only difference between these and the ones I lost are that these have no louvres in the side arms but in practice it doesn't make any difference at all to their performance. I used them throughout our skiing holiday and they worked every bit as well.
If you ski and also wear glasses, these are just about the perfect solution.
Summary: The perfect solution for skiers who wear glasses
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