In 1965, Bob Smith, an orthodontist from California, invented the first ski goggle. Due to its double-lens structure, his model resisted snow and fog from interfering with a skier’s vision, and was intended mainly for powder skiing. Prior to this time, getting a single shot of snow to the face meant momentarily going blind, and it was difficult to see anything in high altitudes due to the fog. However, his invention quickly expanded the practice of backcountry and tree skiing, and even gave skiers visibility on peaks that surpassed 2000 vertical feet.
Winter sport goggles today need to accommodate the variation of activities that comprise skiing and snowboarding. ASTM F659-10: Standard Specification for Ski and Snowboard Goggles addresses guidelines for the optical properties, lens strength and retention, and testing for goggles that are to be worn by skiers and snowboarders in almost all mountain conditions.
While the sport (now sports) for which these goggles were designed has changed greatly over the past half century, the primary purpose of ski goggles has not changed. ASTM F659-10 includes guidelines that assure that, when strapped to a skier or snowboarder’s face, the goggles will block out virtually all moisture, cold, and wind, allowing the skier or snowboarder’s eyes to not be disturbed by the cold, snow, or other climatic forces that are representative of winter sports.
However, a ski day with a blue sky does not necessarily mean conditions in which the goggles’ resistance is unnecessary. ASTM F659-10 specifies testing procedures to determine the UV stability of goggles, unsurprisingly intended for morning and afternoon conditions in which the energy coming from the sun falls onto a ski resort. This testing involves the use of a conditioned xenon lamp, with a power of 450 W, to emit ultraviolet radiation 300 mm away from the goggle lens for 24 hours.
It is also important for manufacturers to focus on more than efforts that protect the ski and snowboard goggles, since they must ensure that the user’s vision is not impaired as the result of wearing goggles. The standard calls for testing procedures for this involve methods for determining the general visibility of the goggles, but also includes those to measure the prismatic power and imbalance rays as they pass through the lenses.
The standard also specifies that the goggles fail visibility testing if there are any cracks formed on the lenses. In managing the strength of the lenses and goggles, it should be considered that these goggles are intended for use for many different skiers and snowboarders, some of which will engage in more hazardous forms of winter sports, such and freestyle and backcountry skiing and snowboarding. While ASTM F659-10 does not address specifications for safety, its guidelines for ensuring the strength of goggles help to protect people’s eyes.
A lot has changed for skiing since Bob Smith’s innovative goggles first became available. Ski resorts now accept skiers and snowboarders, both of which utilize technology that is constantly changing. The changes in ASTM F659-10 over time are reflective of the adaptation of these winter sports. For example, the 2006 version of the standard was titled “Standard Specification for Skier Goggles and Faceshields”, which was changed to accommodate both active winter sports. However, not everything has changed. When even stepping foot on a mountain, all skiers and snowboarders still assume some level of risk. Their equipment, including their goggles, will degrade over time and will not be able to conform to the recommended guidelines. ASTM F659-10 includes specifications indicating directly on the goggles that once they deteriorate, they or their lenses should be replaced.