All good advice so far. There is a lot to take into account when purchasing a great goggle, and sadly one piece of tinted plastic starts to look very much like all the rest on a showroom floor. I can say that an excellent place to start is with a truly optically correct spherical lens. There are definitely masters of this – and posers who could manage to market a cube of solid granite as delicate glass sphere and get people to buy into it…
Without getting into all the finer delicacies of ray tracing, off axis higher order aberrations, multi-polymer coefficients of expansion, tinting and its physiological effect on the cone/rod retinal layer, and mixing indices of refraction in multi-lens designs…there are certainly lenses that shine, and others…well, not so much. With that said, I will mention, in our own practice we’ve had by far and away the greatest success with the Smith I/O lens systems as goggles relate to overall optical clarity.
Wish I could tell you they paid me a shiny new nickel every time we sang their praises…but the hard truth of it is we aren’t lucky enough to be on their payroll. We’re just trying to get by on our years of ophthalmic dispensing knowledge at the foot of the Wasatch, and our rugged good looks. (Let’s just say we thank God our dispensing skills are good! hehehe)
Much like everything in skiing – you get what you pay for…usually. It’s very easy to pay for a name alone and get terrible optics with a killer lOgO stamped on the side. ;) But because of the very nature of placing any refractive media in the optical pathway, you are going to introduce error – meaning there is no such thing as the “optically perfect” goggle. But there are some that come much farther towards that end than others.
You usually won’t put on a distorted goggle and think to yourself: “Hey, this lens feels distorted.” You’ll wear it for a few hours, or perhaps even a day or more. You may find yourself a bit more tired at the end of the day – blame it on the extra few double blacks you took before you headed back to the lodge. You might feel like you’ve got a tension headache – blame it on the altitude. But it could be your goggle lenses. It doesn’t take much to throw off your visual system – unfortunately for us, our eyes are extremely adaptable. What this means simply put is that our eyes and brain will simply try to power through any distortion you put in front of them. Problem is that even though your eyes may not *feel* strained or stressed at the beginning, the amount of work they now have to do just to see “normally” can increase by as much as a factor of five.
Did you know that even hairline scratches on your lenses increase your eyes workload by almost double? Get great lenses. Clean them *properly* and keep them clean. I’m amazed at what I see come through our door sometimes that some folks think is working just fine – it looks like they’ve taken a scouring pad to the front of their lenses!
Getting into tinting, and how the eye reacts (we don’t perceive color with the same intensities across the entire 400-720nm visible spectrum) is a whole other can of worms. There are general tints that can be used in many cases, but you may wish to spend a little time and perhaps money on several different lens options. A goggle that you can change the lens quickly and easily is perfect for this obviously. And in fairness to the manufacturers, most replacement/additional lenses are pretty reasonable in cost – particularly when compared against what we’re forced to pay for burgers and beer après!
Blue bird vs. flat vs. night vs. partly cloudy vs. morning/noon/afternoon all present different challenges to your eyes, and the right lens will make things far far easier for you. Bear in mind as well, that some goggle frames will induce warping distortion if you have to really work to get the frame to fit your face. If there feels like an inordinate amount of bending or flattening of the frame is required to get them to fit where they should - your lens is likely compromised. Find a better fit - or at least enlist the help of a qualified optician who can look at things objectively and from an outside perspective. Sometimes what feels "correct" can easily be seen not to be from the other side of the lens.
Not sure if the OP or any other interested parties are in the greater Salt Lake area, but if you'd like to stop into our shop, I’d be more than happy to talk goggles and lens options with you at length anytime. I’ve been doing advanced optics for decades, sunglasses and complex wrap Rx jobs almost as long, and we have (what I feel is anyway) a pretty solid handle on what it takes to see extremely well on the mountain and off. All of our docs are also huge skiers as well if that tell you anything.
I won’t use Epic as my personal ad space, but if anyone is interested, please feel free to PM me and I can get you any and all contact info to find us off the list here. Thanks Epic for the chance to post some stuff and hopefully make the ski world a little better spreading our collective knowledge! Now, if only I could progress past my level 7 plateau and find my own steeze I’d be all set!
Hope that some of this has been of some help!
Edited by Uilleann - 11/13/11 at 11:32am