Color blind glasses

Why do speed skaters wear glasses?

Why skiers and snowboarders wear goggles or goggles might seem a little obvious, especially if you’ve ever hit the slopes yourself. Sunlight reflected from snow can make it difficult to see, and UV rays can even damage your eyesight. Special colored lenses also create contrast, so your whole path won’t look like a flat expanse of whiteness. Not to mention, the goggles protect your eyes from the snow you move (or the wind blows in your face).

Olympic speed skaters, on the other hand, race indoors on smooth ice. So why are they wearing glasses?

According to NBC Olympics, goggles can also increase visibility on indoor tracks, and some skaters’ lenses are tinted to help with that. And while the ice may look smooth from afar, these sharp blades can throw shards of ice that could cause problems if they end up in your eyes. In the event of an accident, shatterproof goggles also protect skaters’ eyes from stray blades and body parts.

But the number one reason speed skaters opt for goggles might just be their speed. Short track speed skaters (who race on a track approximately 111 meters long) can go up to 30 miles per hour or more, and long track speed skaters (whose track is 400 meters long ) sometimes reach around 35 miles per hour. The wind resistance generated by such speed – in a freezing arena – is enough to make any skater’s eyes water. Imagine sticking your head out the window of a car going about 35 miles per hour on a cold day: you’d probably want to wear glasses too.

That said, goggles are not required and you will occasionally see speed skaters with uncovered faces. Belgian Stijn Desmet, for example, raced in Beijing without glasses, as did Chinese Zhang Chutong.