Have You Ever Wondered: Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses?

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 20, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Nov 03, 2021
Blind man sitting on a bench
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.0 Min

It is very common to see visually impaired people wear shades or roam with a white cane, leaving many to question why they choose to wear sunglasses if they can't see.

Primarily, it is important to address the common misconception that all blind people do not have any vision.

In reality, only 15% of the people suffering from eye disorders are completely blind, and no, blind people do not see black because they cannot perceive any colors at all, the other 85% that have limited sight or tunnel vision are considered legally blind.

In the USA, if a person's central visual acuity is less than 20/200 with corrective lenses in their better-seeing, they are known to have legal blindness.

This means an object seen by a person with visual impairment at 20 ft. (6 m) away can be seen by a non-visually impaired individual at 200 ft. (60.96 m) away. Similarly, a legally blind individual is also some who has a visual field lower than 20 degrees in their functional eyes without side to side movement.

Now that we have cleared that up, let's move on to find out why so many blind people choose to wear sunglasses.

If you enjoy finding out quirky information, check out why do doctors wear white coats and why do donuts have holes.

Can sunglasses improve blind people's vision?

Wearing sunglasses among blind people is common in several circumstances, but improving their vision is unquestionably the main reason. As mentioned above, a majority of visually impaired people have partial eyesight and wear dark shades to enhance their visual perception. With the help of sunglasses, many blind people can identify crucial visual cues like shapes or shadows more clearly.

So how do shades really assist a blind person's ability to see? To begin with, darkened sunglasses cut off bright light which causes a hindrance when visually impaired because the glare can disturb whatever vision they do have.

Sun glare may not seem like an issue for people with normal vision, but it can entirely cut out the minimum vision of visually impaired people.

Similarly, glares also result in photophobia i.e. light sensitivity, among blind people, and using sunglasses avoids issues such as discomfort, migraines, or further loss of vision which are caused due to exposure to sunlight.

Do sunglasses protect blind people's eyes from sun damage?

The harmful UV rays present in sunlight can cause severe eye damage in people with normal eyesight and further loss of vision in blind people. In addition, radiation from the sun can lead to macular problems, inflammation of the cornea, ocular cancer, and most commonly, cataracts, which are one of the primary causes of blindness around the world.

If you notice, many blind people have white eyes, this is due to the formation of vision-blocking cataracts.

Although people with or without visual impairment are equally affected by harmful UV rays or radiation, blind people usually wear sunglasses because their eyes are more sensitive, which means they need to protect their eyes from losing vision entirely.

Blind people wearing sunglasses also stay away from other issues caused by sunlight.

For example, even though visually impaired people can barely see, they do experience mild to excruciating pain when directly exposed to bright lights due to having no cone or rod function and this can lead them to suffer from migraines.

You may think that a blind person can always shade their eyes with their hands when in the presence of bright light, but they cannot do it because they may not know when there is a bright light.

As a result, wearing sunglasses is the only form of protection or shield they can use against any type of discomfort that can be caused due to exposure to ultraviolet rays or other lights.

Young man and blind senior sitting on bench in park in city

Are sunglasses visual cues of blindness?

Among the reasons why many people with visual impairments wear a pair of sunglasses, using them as a visual cue is quite popularly known, and it is true. Some blind people use them for personal reasons such as aesthetics, while others use them to keep their eyes protected from foreign objects.

However, the main reason why they stand out is that it acts as a notifier to other people that they are suffering from some issue related to their eyes.

When people notice a blind person because of their dark sunglasses, they tend to be more attentive and careful toward them. In certain situations, they will even help the person out, especially in crowded places.

Anyone who notices a person with a cane or wearing sunglasses knows that they must adapt their actions to prevent any inconvenience, and keep the blind person safe. This is why many visually impaired individuals wear shades at the airport, malls, campuses, stores, or public transportation.

Do blind people wear a special type of sunglasses?

There is no evidence that special types of sunglasses are needed to protect the eyes of blind people, even though some do choose to have their shades custom-made for various reasons.

For example, color blind people are receptive to only certain colors, and can get confused between different colors, or are more sensitive to certain colors, which is when they opt for custom-made glasses.

Modern technology has taken regular dark glasses for the visually impaired to an extraordinary level.

Now, electronic glasses are among the special types, which can offer a slightly better vision to legally blind people. From combination VR headsets and augmented reality goggles to wireless smart glasses and head-mounted units, you name it, and the discovery is already on its way to helping people with poor vision to see better.

Therefore, even if blind people do not choose to wear sunglasses with custom-made specifications, advancements have caught up with the times to offer better vision and make their lives better.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do blind people wear sunglasses, then why not take a look at where do pine nuts come from, or where does cashmere come from.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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