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November 24, 2021

Snow Goggles Were Used Thousand Years Ago by the Inuits

Generations of snow-bound Arctic Circle people, including the Inuit, have been protecting their eyes from snow blindness for over 4,000 years with snow goggles. Snow blindness is scientifically known as photokeratitis.

These snow goggles’ protect the eyes from the harmful ultraviolet light that gets amplified after getting reflected off the whiteness of the snowy landscape within the Arctic Circle. Just as bright and sunny days could damage a person’s eyes, even the diffuse light on cloudy days can be equally dangerous.

Like other Inuit language words, such as inukhuk/inuksuk, a different word may be used in different dialects. In the Kivalliq dialect, ilgaak is used, while the North Baffin dialect uses iggaak. Both words are also used to refer to sunglasses.





The Inuit goggles are traditionally made of driftwood (especially spruce), bone, walrus ivory, caribou antler, or in some cases seashore grass. The workpiece is carved to fit the wearer’s face, and one or more narrow horizontal slits are carved through the front. The goggles fit tightly against the face so that the only light entering is through the slits, and soot is sometimes applied to the inside to help cut down on glare. The slits are made narrow not only to reduce the amount of light entering but also to improve the visual acuity. The greater the width of the slits the larger the field of view.













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