While I don’t really get to discuss much about the job where I’m currently working, there are some occasional times when I can slip out some of the more… PG activities that I’m involved in. Today I got challenged to make one of many improvised items on a list and managed to do it rather expediently. I picked snow blindness goggles and to drive home the point of unexpected necessity I managed to craft them in about 5 minutes.
It was nothing too fancy and in a survival situation fancy doesn’t matter; only functional counts. After chopping off a slab of pine bark from a felled tree, some quick shaping and a few holes with an awl for both the strings and the eye slits and the snow blindness goggles were ready to go.
And since I’m not oblivious to the fact that not everyone who reads this blog knows what they’re doing in the wild, I’m sure a hand full of you are wondering why you would be running around looking like one of Tolkien’s Ents. In the event that you singe your eyes with an sunburn from the UV rays reflecting off of a snowy terrain, whether tundra, taiga, or mountains, you’re going to need to cover your eyes to prevent further injury. However, in a survival or evasion situation, or just navigating the wild in general, you won’t be able to afford not seeing where you are walking. You’re going to have to get out of your situation to at least get medical attention, much less dealing with potential enemy contact. With the small slits of the snow goggles you let a minimal amount of light pass through; allowing you to see without overwhelming your eyes with more UV. While the snow blindness will undoubtedly burden your movement, completely covering them will certainly keep you from seeing at all and will for all practical purposes make you an invalid and a hindrance to your party. With improvised goggles like these you’ll be able to continue to function in your situation, if at least better than having your eyes completely covered, and you’ll be able to prevent further damage while doing so.
Goggles of this sort can even be used to prevent snow blindness before it occurs. The Inuit, Athabascan, and Yupik people of Alaska and North America have used these goggles traditionally and have crafted them from a variety of materials to include driftwood, bone, ivory, antler and in some cases seashore grass. One of the common materials used in the more inland areas is the bark from birch trees, as the light weight, paper-like bark is easy to manipulate and form. Birch is a fairly abundant hardwood in northern areas, making it easy to acquire. In a situation which could potentially cost you your eyesight wasting time looking for the right materials isn’t something you want to bank on. Simplicity is key and using what you have available to fit the need is your priority.