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Patient Education

Sunglasses and Low Vision

The real title for this section should be “Glare Shields” rather than sunglasses, because some people with a vision loss may not go outside a lot, yet may still struggle with glare, even indoors. Amazingly, a pair of yellow colored sunglasses may be just the solution for their sensitivity to glare, and may also enhance the contrast of almost everything, from people’s faces to items in the kitchen or stairs. Sunglasses or “glare shields” should do much more than merely make things darker. They should help to reduce glare, yet also enhance contrast. For instance, gray colored sunglasses will make things darker, and may even help reduce glare. But they usually don’t help to enhance contrast, which is extremely important to a person with low vision. Colors that do a very good job of both reducing glare and also enhancing contrast are: amber (brown), orange, an amber/orange combination, plum, and yellow.

Interestingly, these same colors just listed also are very helpful for eliminating or reducing “blue light” from reaching the retina. Some research shows possible links between blue light (short wave lengths of the light spectrum) and increased risk of or levels of macular degeneration.

If you have problems with glare from a window or shiny surfaces when indoors, or outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day (or from headlights at night), yellow colored sunglasses may be very helpful for you. Light amber or light plum colored sunglasses may also be helpful for those situations. If you have problems on a bright sunny day outdoors, amber, amber/orange, or dark plum colored sunglasses may be very helpful.

A few people may prefer gray colored sunglasses, but remember that they generally do not help to enhance contrast, and may actually reduce contrast. Also, even though gray and green/gray sunglasses may block out ultraviolet (UV) light, they do not block out the harmful “blue light.”

Our low vision clinics can help you get these “glare shields” or sunglasses in many different styles, and at a very low cost. Don’t be surprised if one of the most helpful low vision “devices” that you find of assistance is a pair of yellow or amber/orange colored sunglasses, for reducing glare and enhancing contrast.

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