If you regularly shut the blinds, turn off lights, or retreat into a dark corner of the room, you could be sensitive to light. Putting on sunglasses might seem like an easy fix — even indoors. But donning the darkest sunglasses for sensitive eyes isn’t a long-term solution. Here’s why:
Don’t Teach Your Eyes to Love the Dark
Wearing sunglasses indoors might reduce your discomfort in the short-term. It might even help you avoid getting a migraine if certain types of light are a trigger for you. But with that immediate sense of relief comes a big risk: the risk of dark-adapting your eyes to become even more sensitive to light over time.
The last time you went to see a movie during the daytime, do you remember how it felt walking out of the dark theater into sunshine? Especially if you’re light sensitive, it could have been downright painful. While you were in the theater, your eyes became adjusted to the darkness and just weren’t ready for daylight.
Regularly wearing sunglasses indoors — whether they’re your average pair or the darkest sunglasses for sensitive eyes you can find — over time may dark adapt your eyes. This means your retinas have become so used to dim conditions that when you inevitably venture into normal light, you get that painful movie theater effect.
A 2015 study published in the Elsevier Survey of Ophthalmology concluded that, “the use of sunglasses indoors must be strongly discouraged. By wearing dark sunglasses indoors, patients are dark adapting their retinas and aggravating their sensitivity to light.”
Essentially, wearing sunglasses indoors a regular basis will actually make your eyes more light sensitive over time. And since you often can’t control the lighting outside your own home, this is bound to become an issue.
Choosing the Right Sunglasses for Outdoors
When choosing a pair of outdoor sunglasses, you want to be assured of their quality and ability to reflect sunlight. ANSI Z80.3-2018, an American National Standard written by the Vision Council, helps to grant this assurance.
According to the ANSI Z80.3-2001, sunglass lenses should have UVB (315 to 280 nm) transmittance of less than one percent, and UVA (380 to 315 nm) transmittance of less than 0.3 times visual light transmittance. Essentially, in the United States, there are 3 categories for sunglasses:
Lens Category 1: Fashion Sunglasses (44 – 80% light transmission):
According to ANSI standards, these are not considered “real” sunglasses and are for low sun exposure.
Lens Category 2: Sunglasses (19 – 43% light transmission):
These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction, and good UV protection.
Lens Category 3: Sunglasses (9 – 18% light transmission):
These are the darkest standard sunglasses you can get that are legal to drive with in the United States. They provide a high level of sun glare reduction and a good level of UV protection against strong sun or light reflected off water or snow.
If you’re looking for Category 3 outdoor sunglasses — the darkest sunglasses for sensitive eyes — try Axon Optics’ outdoor lens tint. These allow 14% of the light through, but only 11% at the most troublesome spots for people with migraine. While these are ideal for outdoor sun protection, be sure to reserve them for outside and wear only precision-tinted indoor lenses when you’re inside.
The Darkest Sunglasses for Sensitive Eyes Won’t Do Indoors — Try Glasses Made for Light Sensitivity
Sunglasses are made to darken any and all types of light. But light-sensitive people need to remember that not all lighting is created equal. Some types of light on the spectrum are more likely to be a problem than others. That’s why — instead of wearing sunglasses indoors to block all types of light — it’s better to filter only the painful kind.
Axon Optics SpectraShield lenses filter only the light that causes discomfort, letting the rest pass through. For people with photophobia or light sensitivity, this brings the same kind of relief as wearing the darkest sunglasses for sensitive eyes, without dark-adapting your eyes.
“I have suffered years with migraines, and sensitivity to lights. I have done botox, all types of medications to no avail, these glasses don’t stop the migraines, but do help. I can now open my blinds at home on a sunny day without being in pain, and also I can go into stores without having to wear my sunglasses.” -Cynthia
Sunglasses are made for the outdoors. For indoor lighting, even the most light-sensitive people are strongly encouraged to wear lenses that are specifically made to filter out only the painful light. Shop precision-tinted lenses from Axon Optics, specifically made for photophobia. They could bring you the relief you need without causing increased sensitivity.