in

First Sunglasses Were Used 2,000 Years Ago By Eskimos

Snow goggles were designed to reduce the amount of sunlight reflecting off the snow, preventing snow blindness when outdoors. Snow blindness is essentially a sunburn of the eyes, and vision can be affected for a few days if precautions are not taken. Snow blindness is scientifically known as photokeratitis.

first sunglasses eskimo snow goggles

Many Inuit groups made snow goggles to combat this issue, sometimes out of bone, ivory, or, like the ones shown, wood. Imagine traveling across the snow-covered tundra on a bright day without sunglasses, and you can see why snow goggles were invented. The small slits reduce the field of vision and the amount of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the eyes.

first sunglasses inuit snow goggles

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesMetropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969

first sunglasses eskimo snow gogglesAn Inuit wearing native snow goggles. ( 2L.T. Burwash / Library and Archives Canada / PA-099362)

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesMetropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesMetropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969

first sunglasses inuit snow goggles
Eskimo sunglasses dating back to between 1200 AD and 1600 AD.

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesIn 2006, Christie’s auctioned off this pair of ancient Punuk Eskimo ivory snow goggles from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesArtifact from The Manitoba Museum (HBC 98-1349) / Photo by Andrew Workman

first sunglasses inuit snow gogglesInuit snow goggles and wooden case. (Wellcome Collection)