Protect your eyes - and yourself - on the slopes

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Goggles can be a fashion statement on the slopes, but their primary function remains one of safety, Oakley product representative Tim Kennedy said.

Broad-spectrum UV protection is a must on any pair of goggles, protecting your eyes from the sun's damaging rays that reflect off the snow.

Although any pair of goggles physically prevents snow, ice and other debris from getting into your eyes, lenses' anti-fog and anti-glare features are key to maintaining your safety on the slopes. Clear vision helps you avoid other skiers and riders and successfully navigate obstacles, Kennedy said.

Expert skiers and riders - and product junkies - may rack up a variety of lenses for different on-mountain conditions. Some higher-end goggles already come complete with interchangeable lenses.

But the best lens for all conditions - all light, all weather - is one that is polarized, Kennedy said.

"A lot of people think it's just good for bright light, but in fact it gives increased contrast in all conditions," Kennedy said.

A polarized lens gives skiers and riders the high-definition vision they need to differentiate snow conditions and spot patches of ice before they hit, he said.

Helmets continue to grow in popularity on the slopes, and eyewear companies have followed suit throughout the years, Ski Haus' Marita Fiedler said.

Goggles manufacturers across the board are at or approaching 100 percent helmet-compatibility in their 2009 lines, Fiedler said.

The one major holdout? Over-the-glasses goggles still lag behind. Although their different fit accommodates prescription eyewear underneath, it makes it more challenging to fit a helmet around them, Fiedler said.

If helmets and goggles are not being purchased simultaneously, be sure to try them on together before you buy, especially if you're mixing brands, Fiedler said.

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