How to

29 September 2016

Why You Should Consider Eye Protection in Winter

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When the temperature starts to dip, and the afternoons darken, there are certain things you need to take in to consideration. A warm coat is a given, sturdy boots are often important, as are hats and gloves, but what about your eyes? It might not seem like the most obvious or essential thing, but especially if you're working outdoors in winter conditions, eye-protection is definitely something you should take into account.

When I say eye-protection, I'm not directly talking about the cold, but more the icy winds, sleet and snowfall that often come with it. A 10 minute walk home in that kind of Narnia-esque weather is unpleasant, an entire day in it is unbearable, and if you're doing anything which requires some level of precision, it can be extremely detrimental, even dangerous. 

It's not just about the eyes, either. The upper cheeks and and forehead are both sensitive to cold, and wind chill can cause substantial discomfort in those areas if they're left exposed. Normal safety goggles aren't effective in the cold, as the materials they're made of tend to seize up, but there are plenty of safety goggles specifically designed to get around this issue. Remember, you're looking for something which keeps your face and eyes warm, but also offers the same level of protection as other goggles.

One of the first things you should consider is lens fogging. There's heat coming off your face and cold air coming at it, and when the two mix, condensation is the result. If you're exerting yourself as you work, it happens even faster. This in mind, you need to look for goggles with anti-fog coating, and if you can, permanently bonded anti-fog coating, as this is the most reliable kind. 

In a similar vein, you should tend towards goggles with dual paned lenses, so that there's air between the two panels. This provides an extra layer of insulation which firstly keeps the heat in but also further reduces condensation. Many such goggles are also fitted with air vents, which follows a similar principle to moisture wicking in other winter clothes - getting the warm, condensed air off your face before it causes any problems by either cooling on your skin or condensing (again, fog). 

The next thing is lens tinting. We've talked about the risks of snow blindness on Keep Me Warm before, and it's just as applicable to outdoor winter work as it is to skiing. Ski goggles themselves aren't strong enough to serve as protective goggles, but most decent winter goggles will be tinted. 

The headband is something that needs to be considered as well, as you'll want something that will fit comfortably when worn with a hat, or even a goggle-friendly balaclava. The surrounds on the goggles should ideally be made of foam or other soft, insulating substances, otherwise you'll find that the long you wear them, the more uncomfortable they will become, and they might even mark the area around your eyes. 

With these factors in mind, you can start looking for the perfect pair. Brands to look at include Bolle, Pyramex and Haber Barrow. Much like all other winter wear, don't try and go the cheap and cheerful route, you'll regret it. If you can, test out a few different kinds before you buy, so as to avoid dropping money on something which you suddenly find you're not comfortable wearing for long periods of time. 

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.