Sunday, 31 May 2015

My UV Glasses:
"They are a huge part of my identity"

The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) recently shared a handy article focused on the 5 steps to selecting the right glasses for those with light sensitivity, featuring various shots from my photoshoot with them earlier this year. As I'm often asked about my UV glasses, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you why I wear eye shields and how they benefit me as someone with a severe visual impairment.

I was born with Congenital Cataracts, underdeveloped Optic Nerves and Nystagmus, meaning that I now have just a tiny amount of central vision left - made almost entirely of light perception. As a result, I'm constantly struggling with different lighting conditions. It's almost impossible for me to find the perfect situation as too little or too much light further decreases the tiny amount of useful vision that I have left. Whether indoors in supermarkets, with brightly-lit ceiling lights, or outdoors on a cloudy day, where the sky is filled with endless white, my eyes strain painfully and I just want to shut them completely!

After some research, I discovered the benefits of wearing UV glasses and how different coloured filters help to give varying levels of protection to your individual needs. The green filter seemed like the best choice for me, filtering out the most light with 19% visible light being transmitted through the lens, as the other high contrasted filters seemed far too bright. They were described as being "suitable for high degrees of light sensitivity or for use in bright situations" and giving "more definition and protection due to having good blue light absorption."

It wasn't long before I purchased my first pair, back in early 2008, and although they helped me tremendously I found that the design of my glasses were entirely too masculine; especially for a 19 year old who was still discovering her style and exploring fashion trends and accessories.

That all changed in 2013 when the RNIB released a new line of UV frames finally aimed at women! The 'Audrey' glasses were styled after those frequently worn by icon Audrey Hepburn, which brought a much-needed touch of femininity and class to a helpful aid that, for some reason, is often designed in such a masculine way. With large circular lenses encapsulating the full eye, protecting from bright lights and UV rays, incorporating jewelled sequins along the arms of the frames - it was hard for me to say no, and they were quickly added to my online shopping basket!

I have been wearing them every single day since! As well as being fashionable and functional, they are a huge part of my identity and have helped to improve my sense of confidence and self-esteem. Along with protecting my eyes from unwanted light, they also protect me from low-hanging branches and foliage that I would otherwise be injured by when I'm out on a route with my Guide Dog. As a lover of greens and blues they, more often than not, tend to match my outfits and I regularly receive compliments for colour co-ordinating - even though it wasn't intentional!

If you constantly struggle with the light as I do and are considering wearing UV glasses then please read the RNIB's top 5 tips! They have a range of eyeshields and UV glasses available to purchase from their online store.