Observations from behind sunglasses

I’ve been wearing sunglasses and also colored shades for a few years now. Not always when I’m home but never out of home without them on and with a pair or a few in the purse for a change. I’ve noticed a few things in the past years while wearing them.

One of them is that in some situations everyone is supposed to be bare-eyed. That is no sunglasses. Regular prescription glasses are ok, and even those with a stronger tint and strong reflections, making it difficult for others to see your eyes. People are hardwired to somehow get a lot of information from others eyes. I probably never had that capability fully developed, as my prescriptions were always off, and I never really liked the intense eye contact dance anyway. So I would stare at people’s foreheads, or to their left or right or wherever close enough to them. I never had enough resolution to be able to see the tiny lines around the eyes that I have read in books indicate a smile’s honesty. Yes, if I read that correctly… in several books… humans can see that much detail. If you dont’ have tiny wrinkles of some kind around your eyes, your smile isn’t apparently genuine. (What about those who have had botox? Obviously they’ll never have any genuine facial expressions). Or what about being in a place that is too dark or light? I have a deep line on my forehead in bright light, and I can’t help that. I can’t regulate my eyes’ capability to use light, except by closing my eyes – which in most social situations is also a no-no.

In social situations in work and with friends or family or probably even when out enjoying your time with friends enjoying some alcoholic refreshments bare-eyedness is the expectation. Depending on the shades I wear I get different reactions. Stevie Wonder comments. One of my favorite type of shades is dark, with tinted light mirrors. Accessorize your face with tiny bit of tinted lipbalm and a smile. With that combination I can pass either way. Usually. And many people seem to get uncomfortable when they can’t see my eyes. Only one person has ever commented about it directly; a Swedish friend I’ve known for years. “Those shades are kind of freaky, I can’t see your eyes”. I took the shades off for the rest of the night because even while it felt uncomfortable to be bare-eyed, I like his honesty.

Why do I wear the shades? There are a lot of reasons. The first is eye comfort. Bright lights hurt. The second is privacy. I can’t differentiate or recognize people, or see facial expressions or body language – so why should I walk around with bare eyes and allow others to see more of me than I see about them? I try to use my voice, to remember to allow some emotional cues to creep in my voice usage so others can “read me” a bit better, and to smile so to not scare people away all the time. The third reason is again eye comfort. Bright yellow is often really comfortable even when everything is just blurry and approximate at best. Forth, those will allow me to either blend in and feel like I still have a bit of privacy in the sighted world around me, or to be visibly visually impaired (preferred, with safety considerations). And after all those there are the style considerations.

I have probably around fifty pairs of shades. When I was a kid, I never had that luxury. I had one pair of lousy colored clip-ons to put on my eyeglasses, and those were far from strong enough. My parents and I could not afford to get prescription sunglasses. Now, surgeries and prescriptions later, I like that I can sort of use any shades since I don’t need to worry about seeing a thing. Well, technically the pair I seem to wear most of the time these days is with prescription lenses. I asked for a sunglasses frame and style that would work also indoors, and found a pair that fits that. Light in weight, it covers the sides too, and it’s relatively dark in the lens color. I wear them even when watching movies, and can usually be interpreted correctly in whether I might need assistance or not. I wish they were darker and with some mirror though.

My other favorite pairs have all different characteristics. I use quite often a yellow (lemon) pair of Cocoons. For color, much like a pair of NoIRs I have, except they don’t scream like a pair of grandma medical glasses. I can understand why many like yellow glasses for driving at night, except of course when I’m trying to accommodate my eyes, I use those in broad daylight, and dark shades at night. Then there are days when bright orange works better, or green… or just any dark ones will do. Oh, and then there are blackoutbands. No light perception – or eye pain – wearing those. Did I mention bright lights usually mean eye pain?

I’ve noticed a lot of women (with regular sight) wear sunglasses outdoors, and don’t seem to use facial expressions with them. I don’t typically like to have much facial expressions, but I try to keep a polite closed smile when appropriate. And with all the shades, the weirder the color (like the yellow or orange ones) the less I have to do because I seem to be easier to be perceived as less of an eye person when wearing those. Just listen and smile, and people tend to be friendly. With darker shades people can be uncomfortable as said earlier. They want to see the eyes of the person they are talking with. It’s an odd balance.

There are a lot of visually impaired people who don’t wear shades, and there are also those that do. Either should be fine. I also like to keep my eyes closed most of the time. It’s more comfortable behind dark shades, so I don’t break the weird eye contact social rules. But of the blind people I know, most of those who like to keep their eyes always closed are guys. Maybe men don’t have to try to comply with the eye contact rule as much, or they can be more comfortable and feel safer in the public with eyes closed.

And now off to a lunch wearing my dark shades 🙂 have a great week everyone.


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