Many of us have seen that stereotypical image of a blind person wearing sunglasses and carrying a white cane. For years I wrongly assumed that wearing sunglasses was because the person either had no vision or their eyes didn’t look natural. It wasn’t until I lost my own vision that I learned otherwise.
Now blind people wear sunglasses for a host of reasons. Some might be because of total blindness or appearance of their eyes. Or it could be they have trouble making continuous eye contact.
National Sunglasses Day
Since June 27, is National Sunglasses Day it’s perfect timing to talk about this topic. The Vision Council started this day in 2014. The idea was to encourage people to wear sunglasses in order to protect their eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. But let’s explore other reasons why the blind wear sunglasses.
Sunglasses Help Improve Vision
1. Again, not all blind people are totally blind. Actually, the majority have some level of vision. They might see light, shadows, shapes, or objects with magnification. Sunglasses reduce glare and help improve vision. A glare that only takes up a small portion of a seeing person’s visual field may take up nearly all of our visual field.
People with vision loss commonly experience photophobia, also known as light sensitivity. Sunglasses can decrease discomfort or further vision loss from bright lights. When I went blind I experience photophobia. Actually, it was what prompted me to seek medical attention. I couldn’t stand light of any kind; indoor or out. My eyes burned and I had severe migraines.
Sunglasses Protect From the Sun
2. When outside we all need to wear sunglasses whether sighted or blind because of the sun’s harsh UV rays. The blind are just as vulnerable as the sighted. Exposure to these rays can cause eye damage. UV rays increases the risk of developing conditions like cataracts or macular degeneration.
Sunglasses Provide Protection
3. All kinds of foreign objects can enter the eye and sunglasses provide a protective shield. Damage to the eye can be caused by dust, dirt, pollen and debris. Then there is possible eye injury from open cupboard doors, things flying around outside, or tree branches. Ouch!
Sunglasses Communicate Blindness
4. As I mentioned earlier, seeing a person wearing sunglasses and carrying a white cane is often recognized as a sign of blindness. Yet, some people who are not totally blind may choose to wear sunglasses to easily communicate blindness in certain situations. This encourages people to adopt helpful responses. For example, keeping a safe distance to not cause injury or harm, or to extend help when offered.
Bonus fact. We are fashionable and look for trendy sunglasses not just the typical black wrap around styles. For years I wore red trimmed sunglasses and alternated with ones with rhinestones.
Learn something? I sure hope so. Now you know why the blind wear sunglasses and it’s not just because we are blind.
2 thoughts on “Why Do the Blind Wear Sunglasses? It’s Not Totally Why You Think.”
Oh wow, this was an enlightening post indeed. I had zero idea about photophobia, and you certainly taught me a thing or two today. Thanks for sharing!
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You are welcome. I learned a lot too working on this post. Each time I write and blog about something I learn something new. This is one aspect of writing I really enjoy.