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What Type of Sunglasses Are Best For People With Low Vision?

Three elderly women wearing sunglasses

While everyone should wear sunglasses that block 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, those with low vision greatly benefit from the sunglasses' decreased glare and improved contrast and clarity.

Below are a few things to consider when selecting glasses if you have low vision.

Low Vision Protection From the Sun

The first and most crucial feature to look for in sunglasses are lenses that provide 100% UV-A and UV-B protection. Your eyelids, cornea, lens, and certain sections of the retina can all be damaged by ultraviolet light.

Don't buy sunglasses if the label doesn't say 100% UV Protection against both UVA and UVB’ or 100% protection against UV 400. Consider purchasing wrap-around or tight-fitting sunglasses that don't allow UV light to reach your eyes from the sides or the top of the glasses.


Many people often believe that darker lenses equal better protection. In fact, darker lenses don’t necessarily provide better protection and may even reduce visibility, especially for people with eye conditions like glaucoma. Before purchasing sunglasses, discuss the optimal lens darkness with your low-vision eye doctor. Then try a variety of lens shades in the office to see which ones provide the most visibility and comfort.

Lens Glare

Glare sensitivity is a symptom of macular degeneration and many other eye conditions. Even when sitting in the shade, the sun can reflect off the water, the road, a car's hood and other surfaces, creating a harsh glare. Polarized sunglass lenses decrease the glare reflected off these and other surfaces. This results in increased comfort, improved clarity and reduced eye fatigue.

Vision Clarity

Since macular degeneration reduces one's sharp vision, wearing sunglasses with high-quality lenses is critical. The clarity of the lens is determined by the quality of the lens material. When trying on the lenses, ask the staff to get you the clearest sunglass lenses they have.

Enhanced Contrast

People with low vision struggle to distinguish contrast. Fortunately, certain tinted lenses provide improved contrast. These include orange and yellow lenses. 

So before you select your new pair of sunglasses, make sure to wear them outside and see whether they provide optical clarity, decreased glare, and improved contrast. 

If you or a loved one has low vision, contact Low Vision of Tennessee to discuss which sunglasses are right for you.

Our practice serves patients from Nashville, Lebanon, Kentucky, and Georgia, Tennessee and surrounding communities.


Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Jim Gillispie

Q: What is low vision?

  • A: Low vision is an eye condition that cannot be corrected with conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. It includes eye conditions like macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Q: Why is UV protection important for low vision patients?

  • A: Sunglasses may help people with low vision prevent future vision loss caused by UV radiation exposure.


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