People with visual impairments experience the world in different ways than people who have no trouble seeing. Many blind individuals understand their environment through other senses, such as smell, taste, and sound.
Anyone who is blind or has low vision may wear sunglasses to help them see better — not because they are sensitive to UV light but because they have reduced light sensitivity in bright light (known as photophobia). Wearing sunglasses can help increase contrast and other visual acuity, making the person feel more comfortable and able to see more clearly.
When you think of a person who is visually impaired wearing sunglasses, you probably think it’s for eye protection against ultraviolet rays. But that’s not actually the case for most blind people who wear them regularly. Below we answer the question “Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses?”
Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses?
Did you know that the sun’s rays can cause serious damage to your eyes? Even though most people usually think of ultraviolet light as the harmful part of sunlight, it’s actually visible light (and infrared light) that can be damaging to your eyes.
And while sunglasses might not seem like they would help someone who is blind, those who are visually impaired obviously cannot see the world around them.
Wearing a pair of sunglasses can help protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and prevent further vision loss. That being said, we understand that it might feel a little odd to think about why do blind people wear sunglasses. Let us explain…
What Is Ultraviolet Light?
Ultraviolet light (UV light) is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than what humans can see. UV light is further classified as either UVA or UVB rays. Both UVA and UVB are harmful to the eye, although UVA is thought to be more damaging.
UV light can cause damage to the cells in the retina and photoreceptors in the eye. This damage can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye diseases. UV light is also thought to increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer, such as melanoma, although it is not clear how great of a risk this is.
Why Are UV Rays Harmful?
UV rays can cause cellular damage in the retina and photoreceptors in the eye. UV light can also damage the cornea and lens of the eye. This damage can lead to macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa.
UV light can also increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer, such as melanoma. The link between UV light and skin cancer is less clear than the link between UV light and eye disease, although the two may be related.
How Can Visible Light Cause Damage?
While UV light can cause damage in the eye, visible light can also cause damage. UV light is a type of ionizing radiation, meaning it has enough energy to damage the cells in the retina and photoreceptors in the eye.
Healthy cells can repair themselves, but if cells are damaged too often or are unable to repair themselves, they die. If cells die in the retina or photoreceptors, vision loss can occur. Visible light can also damage the cornea and lens of the eye. This can lead to blurred vision and the need for a corneal transplant.
Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses?
Even though most people can see the sun and know to avoid it, those who are blind likely do not have the same instinct. Because those who are blind cannot see the sun, they do not know to avoid it. As a result, they are at risk of sunburns from UV rays and other types of eye damage.
Visually impaired people can damage their eyes from UV light and visible light. Wearing sunglasses helps to reduce this risk, as they block and reflect visible light. Visually impaired people who don’t wear sunglasses are at risk of eye disease and other eye problems.
Tips For Selecting The Right Pair of Sunglasses
When selecting a pair of sunglasses, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, be sure to select a pair that blocks both UVA and UVB light. Why do blind people wear sunglasses? Because they need to protect their eyes, not because they can see.
Some people even tout the benefits of wearing sunglasses indoors, since they can reduce glare from light fixtures. Depending on the type of material used, certain types of sunglasses might be appropriate for certain weather conditions.
When spending time outside, be sure to wear a hat, protective clothing, and a pair of sunglasses. You can also wear a scarf or wear your hair in a ponytail or bun to cover your neck and ears from the sun’s rays.
You can even wear a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses on a cloudy day or indoors to reduce glare. Just remember that not all sunglasses are created equal. To get the full UV protection you need, make sure you select a pair that blocks 100% of UVA and UVB light.