Living in the Arctic winter, a real fear exists of what is called snow blindness––a painful, temporary loss of vision due to overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This causes a sunburn on the cornea of the eye. With the springtime return of the sun, Alaskan Native peoples living in areas with little tree cover were especially susceptible to snow blindness. They adapted by inventing snow googles. With small slits serving as the eyeholes, the goggles not only protected the wearer’s eyes, but they also focused the incoming light, allowing for hunters to see farther. The wrap-around shape also shielded the eyes from light seeping in at the edges. Modern mountain climbing and polar expedition sunglasses mimic this design feature of snow goggles. One major advantage of snow goggles is the fact that, unlike sunglasses or ski googles, Native-made snow goggles never fog up and you don’t have to worry about scratching the lenses.
Steve McCutcheon Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1990.14.5.AKNative.24.49
Edward Remick, #10. after 25 years: 20,320 feet: 21 days (2010), Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, Anchorage Museum Collection, 2012.3.1.1