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Why Do Blind People Often Wear Sunglasses?

People, including people who are blind, wear sunglasses primarily to prevent the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. But there are other reasons why dark glasses help someone who cannot see.

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Reasons Blind People Wear Sunglasses

People wear glasses for various reasons, but it is primarily for protection against the searing sunshine, hence the name sunglasses. And at times you will see blind people donning a pair of dark sunglasses, despite the fact they cannot see the sun.

Many people speculate that the blind wear sunglasses to hide their eyes. Although this might be true, there are more reasons why more than 1 million clinically blind people wear sunglasses. 

Protection from UV Rays

Ultraviolet rays are harmful light wavelengths from the sun that can affect your eyes, causing photokeratitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the cornea. To protect their eyes, the blind will use sunglasses to stop these rays from getting into their eyes.

Typically, the sunglasses will protect the eyes of the blind from ultraviolet rays in the following ways:

  • Completely blocking both Ultraviolet-B and A radiations
  • Screening out 75-90% of visible light
  • Wraparound frames for additional protection against the solar radiation

Improves Vision

You don’t have to lose all of your vision for the eye doctor to declare you blind. If the visual acuity in your better-seeing eye is below 20/200, then you are legally blind. It means you can still see, but you need to be 20 feet closer to an object to see it, and yet a person with normal vision would see the same thing when they are 200 feet away. 

If you have this type of visual impairment, you can improve your vision by wearing sunglasses since they reduce glare, a light that bounces in every direction affecting your eyesight. 

Safeguard against Dust and Injury

It is difficult to shield your body from something that you can’t see, and this is what blind people face every day. If you are blind, your eyes get constantly affected by dust and foreign objects as you can’t see and get out of the way in time. For that reason, wearing sunglasses is crucial, especially when you are outside.

Inform Others about Their Condition

A blind person might want to communicate with other people about their condition without saying it out loud. Ideally, you will recognize that a person is blind if they walk around with a white stick. Equally, the blind can also use sunglasses to communicate their visual impairment. 

And this can come in handy when they are in areas with many pedestrians, such as zebra crossing pathways.

Minimize Effects of Photophobia

Continually exposing your eyes to sunlight can affect them and lead to conditions such as photophobia, where your eyes become sensitive to light, causing you to experience migraines. 

Photophobia is a serious problem for blind people since the structures that regulate the amount of light entering their eyes (iris) may not be functioning correctly. Therefore, using sunglasses will help limit the amount of light entering their eyes, protecting them from migraines.

Aesthetic Reasons

Some blind people may also choose to wear glasses for aesthetic reasons. That is especially true if they have physical defects with their eyes, such as disfigurations or abnormal shapes. Others could even have crossed eyes (strabismus) where the eyes are facing opposite directions. 

Consequently, such people will wear sunglasses to avoid causing discomfort to people when they look into their eyes.   

References

  1. Blindness. (August 2021). StatPearls.

  2. Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders. (June 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  3. Radiation: The known health effects of ultraviolet radiation. (October 2017). World Health Organization.

  4. Migraine photophobia originating in cone-driven retinal pathways. (May 2016). Brain.

  5. Photophobia in a blind patient: An alternate visual pathway. Case report. (November 2006). Journal of Neurosurgery.

  6. Polarized Sunglasses. Exploratorium.

  7. Ultraviolet (UV) protection. American Optometric Association.

Last Updated June 30, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.