Do You Still Need to Wear Sunglasses When It’s Cloudy Outside?

It’s easy to be complacent about your eyes when you’re out and about.

Though many people know to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun, Study Finds reports that over 42% of Americans don’t think about the sun’s effects on their eyes—even after spending long periods outside.

It’s even easier to let your eye health vigilance fall by the wayside when the sky is cloudy and you don’t feel that sting of brightness.

The sun, however, doesn’t need your awareness to do some damage. It’s best you protect your eyes no matter the weather. Here’s why.

Why do you still need sunglasses when it’s cloudy?

The short answer is ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are three kinds: UVA, UVB, and UVC. All three are forms of energy that can provide you with a healthy dose of the Vitamin D your body needs.

Too much exposure, however, can cause profound harm to both your skin and eyes, even when you don’t sense it. Contrary to popular belief, cloudy days don’t signal that you can let your guard down against radiation.

A phenomenon called the broken cloud effect accentuates the amount of UV during overcast days, as the reflective nature of clouds causes the sun’s radiation to bounce everywhere—including your vulnerable eyes.

This ultimately means you may be exposed to more UV rays on cloudy days than on cloudless ones. For that reason, you need to wear protective eyewear continuously—else you run into the following eye conditions:

Eye conditions you risk if you don’t wear sunglasses


If you’ve ever gazed at the sky on a foggy morning and were unpleasantly surprised with persistent eye pain for the rest of the day, you might have experienced photokeratitis.

Sometimes referred to as a sunburn for your eyes, this ailment is caused by UVA and UVB from the sun. Symptoms can include eye pain and redness, twitching, and, in extreme cases, temporary loss of vision.

Fortunately, photokeratitis is not usually serious—symptoms largely disappear after the 48-hour mark. However, long-term exposure to UV rays can still put you in danger of more long-term diseases.

Macular degeneration

If you spend a lot of time outdoors without protective eyewear, one of the most common eye diseases you can acquire is macular degeneration.

This disease affects the retina—the layer of light-sensitive cells located behind your eyeball—causing vision loss or obstructions. Unfortunately, there is no remedy for macular degeneration aside from prevention.


You’ll spot cataracts on another person as a grayish transparency on their pupils. If you get cataracts yourself, the condition will manifest slowly. Your vision will dim, and you’ll be more sensitive to light.

Eventually, cataracts can heavily compromise your eyesight. Cataracts are caused by the culmination of lengthened exposure to UV rays and only usually show up around your 40s.

This shows that even when exposing your eyes doesn’t have immediate effects, eventually, the consequences will catch up with you.

Best colored lenses to see when it’s cloudy

Though sunglasses are essential, not all of them are suited for use on cloudy days.

For example, dark shades tend to block out too much light and may affect visibility. Instead, pick a color from the yellow family, like light brown or reddish-orange, to protect you and sharpen contrasts in your surroundings.

The outdoor eyewear brand Costa Del Mar has sunglasses specifically for low light and cloudy conditions, all with brown lenses that can help you navigate the haze. It also has various frame designs you can choose from to shape your face perfectly.

If you want something fancier and more high-tech, Ray-Bans features a model called Ray-Ban Stories that have both a camera and tinted lenses embedded.

Careful, though—those sunglasses can easily incur water damage, which doesn’t bode well if the clouds above turn into rain.

Harmful UV rays can reach your eyes even on cloudy days. Ensure you have suitable eyewear to shield and help you see clearly.

If you enjoyed this piece, you might also find our guide to getting rid of sunken eyes useful.