Snowblindness

Snowblindness is just one of the things the team want to avoid in Greenland. Snowblindness is a temporary loss of vision caused by the sun’s rays – think of it like sunburn of the eyeballs!

Of course the Inspiring Explorers have sunglasses and protective goggles to protect their eyes, but things were different for Nansen’s expedition. The use of sunglasses have been documented as early as the 18th century, however they were not widely popular until the 1920s. While the explorers had primitive spectacles, they mostly utilised Inuit snow goggles. Made from wood or walrus ivory, the goggles had thin horizontal slots cut into them that limited the amount of sun exposure.

The goggles did not provide protection though, and Nansen documented having to apply cocaine drops to Samuel Balto’s eyes when he was struck with snowblindness. This is an early documented use of the drug. It would later be used by Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition, and Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition for the same purpose.