If you see a blind person in fiction, chances are they'll be sporting a pair of sunglasses.
This is Truth in Television. There are a few legitimate reasons a blind person may wear sunglasses:
- The most common reason is that many blind people can still perceive light and shadow, just nothing beyond that, and that can be confusing and hard to navigate, or their eyes are very physically sensitive and direct contact with sunlight is very painful for them (even if they can't actually see the sunlight), especially if they are recovering from some kind of operation.
- Another common reason is that people who develop cataracts (clouded-over corneas) sometimes wear sunglasses to conceal them.
- In addition, for everyone else, a blind person's eyes often aren't facing forward or focusing on anything, which can be disconcerting to sighted people trying to make eye contact during a conversation.
This Truth in Television is very helpful to creating fiction, as an animator doesn't have to draw eyes that aren't looking at anything, and sighted live-action actors playing blind characters can still see while playing the role without it being obvious that their eyes are moving around and focusing on things.
The Blind Black Guy is prone to wearing sunglasses. See Prophet Eyes for another (albeit less realistic) method of demonstrating a character's lack of sight. Should a character pretend to be blind, expect them to wear sunglasses as part of the disguise. Might justify Sunglasses at Night. Has nothing to do with Blind Without 'Em.
- In the 1977 animated short Bara no Hana to Joe (The Flower Rose and Joe) directed by Takashi Yanase and Sanrio Animation. The main protagonist is a brown dog who falls in love with a rose and has to protect it from a black crow. Near the end of the short, the crow decides to aim for his eyes and causes him to become permanently blind despite succeeding to lure him away from the rose. Joe is later seen wearing sunglasses and has to use his sense of smell to know where he's going. He even manages to have a final showdown with the crow and is able to fight despite losing his ability to see. Joe even manages to track down the exact location that the pink rose is planted in.
- Bleach: Blind Weaponmaster Kaname Tosen is the series's only blind character, and he starts out wearing a pair of metallic-looking glasses. Later, he swaps them for a visor.
- In City Hunter, Umibozunote is (almost) never seen without sunglasses due to his blindness. Not that it hinders him much, as he's capable of working as a cafe bartender as well as an ordinary sighted person is despite being blind.
- Emilka Sza - The character of Natalia the blind musician wears black glasses all the time. At one point she directly mockes this trope stating she finds hillarious that people think blind people always wear black sunglassses. When her cousin Eric points out she weares black glasses all the time, she responds proudly "Cose it's make me look cool".
- Daredevil, who is blind, wears sunglasses as the civilian lawyer Matt Murdock. Most of the time, Matt's sunglasses are rendered as a pretty cool pair that happens to be red.
- In Monica's Gang, Doreen is a blind girl who is often seen wearing her sunglasses.
- All Assorted Animorphs AUs: At the end of "What if Tobias wasn't stuck in morph?", one of the reasons Tobias realises that Loren is blind is because she's wearing sunglasses in a dark alley in the evening.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2: When David pretends to be a blind boy with Charlie, Itchy, and Sasha as his guide dogs, he puts on a pair of sunglasses.
- In the animated Show Within a Show segments of One Crazy Summer, the personification of Love is portrayed with sunglasses and a cane because he's blind — along with being a baby with wings and a diaper, of course.
- Exploited by Disney's Robin Hood (1973) when he dons a tattered shawl and tinted glasses to pose as a blind beggar. Robin is able to fool the merciless Sheriff of Nottingham in this disguise when both are together at Skippy's birthday party.
- In the Shrek movies, the Three Blind Mice wear pince-nez style sunglasses.
- Andhadhun: Akash, the main protagonist, pretends to be blind and wears sunglasses to seal the deal.
- Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: When Austin enters a casino bathroom, the bathroom attendant is wearing dark glasses. When Austin sees this, he concludes that the man is blind.
- Played with in The Book of Eli. The title character wears Cool Shades for most of the movie, and it's only revealed at the end that he's blind.
- In Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the heroes decide to travel on a whale-watching boat. Aware that the boat only allows guide dogs onboard, they place sunglasses on a sleeping old man to make it look like Diggs is his guide dog.
- A Christmas Story: In his Imagine Spot about going blind, Ralphie is wearing sunglasses. It's implied he's wearing them to simply look blind, as he winks to the camera from behind them while his parents sob about his situation.
- Deadpool: Blind Al almost always wears large black sunglasses, even when alone in her apartment. Makes it all the more impressive in her introductory scene at a laundromat, when Wade realizes she's identified the stains in his clothes by sound and smell from across the room.
- Invoked in Happy Death Day 2U. Danielle wears glasses when she is pretending to be blind in order to distract the Dean (using her audition material for Helen Keller) from destroying the time-travel machine.
- In Dr. No, the Three Blind Mice wear sunglasses and have canes so they appear blind. In reality, they are assassins for Dr. No.
- Kung Fu Hustle: The two Musical Assassins hired by Brother Sum wear sunglasses, but only one of them is blind.
- Oddball junkie Lycon tells The Hero of Minority Report that retinal scanning can be subverted by those that can afford eyeball transplants. Lycon is sightless, and he removes his opaque glasses to reveal empty eye sockets while delivering the line:
Lycon: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
- Discussed in Night on Earth, when a blind woman isn't wearing sunglasses:
Taxi Driver: Say, don't blind people always wear dark glasses?
Blind Woman: I wouldn't know, I've never seen a blind person.
- In the short film One-Eyed Men Are Kings, this is exploited by the protagonist, who has normal vision but pretends to be blind by putting on sunglasses.
- A Patch of Blue: Selina, the blind teenaged protagonist, wears her sunglasses whenever she goes outside.
- See For Me: Sophie, the blind protagonist, is seen wearing sunglasses during the car ride to the home she will be sitting for.
- Sneakers: Whistler, one of the members of the titular "white hat" hacker team, wears sunglasses all of the time because he's blind. The question of why a man who is blind is on a hacker team is answered by the fact that Whistler's hearing is so good that he can listen to stuff like sonic sensors being active and specific dial tones that tell the rest which are the best lines to do "phreaking" with.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Word of God says that the Federation President is blind, and that's why he wears pince-nez style sunglasses. Word of God says that these glasses let him see akin to Geordi's VISOR on TNG later.
- Top Secret!: One of the Resistance members is a blind street vendor of novelties and souvenirs. He wears black glasses to let the audience know he's blind.
- Trading Places: Exploited by scam artist Billy Ray Valentine when he is first introduced, posing as a crippled, blinded Vietnam veteran complete with sunglasses. Due to his sunglasses, he can hide the fact that he can see because his eyes would follow whatever got his attention.
- Yellowbeard: When Commander Clement first meets Harvey "Blind" Pew, Pew is wearing dark glasses. When Clement sees the glasses Pew is wearing, he immediately realizes that Pew is blind.
- John Wick: Chapter 4 plays this straight with newcomer character Caine, with the character's very name alluding to one of his weapons of choice; a cane-sword that he also uses as a walking stick. His cane-sword is often wielded alongside a SIG P365 SAS handgun modified to have no iron sights whatsoever, given their redundancy. Much like another blind character portrayed by Donnie Yen, his blindness does little to hinder his combat prowess, through a combination of ingenuity and sheer talent.
- There's an old joke about someone who wants to bring his dog into a bar, but they aren't allowed. His friend tells him to wear sunglasses and pretend that it's a seeing-eye dog. The bartender points out that it's a Chihuahua. The punch line is the "blind" man saying "They gave me a Chihuahua!?"
- Follow My Leader: A blind teenager is shown wearing dark glasses on the cover of several editions of the book, as shown here◊ and here◊.
- Liquidate Paris by Sven Hassel. A woman Sven is chatting up takes off his sunglasses and is surprised when he flinches in pain, as he's wearing them for medical reasons after recovering from temporary blindness caused by a phosphorus shell.
- Partners in Crime: When Tommy is pretending to be a blind detective in the story "Blindman's Bluff", he wears opaque glasses as part of the exercise, claiming to the client that it's because the bright lights of the restaurant hurt. It turns out he can see through them perfectly and was just pranking Tuppence.
- Star Wars Legends: The Miraluka are a blind race who lack eyes and see through the Force. Sunglasses or on occasion cloth strips are standard attire, partly so they won't get stared at. Also appears in Dark Forces with Dark Jedi Jerec, who is Miraluka.
- Becker: Jake Malinak, the title character's best friend, is blind and often seen wearing sunglasses. In the episode "Sight Unseen" he is seen dating a woman named Nina, who is also blind and wears shades.
- Played for laughs in Black Books. In the finale of the episode "The Entertainer", the three main cast members have all suffered a humiliating defeat after trying and failing to impress a blind piano tutor, his father, and grandfather (all three of whom are wearing sunglasses!), plus Bernard's prospective girlfriend. As a result, the cast are all wearing sunglasses the next day: Bernard because he's hungover, Fran to hide the fact that she's been crying, and Manny because an angry customer left him with two black eyes — and he's also walking with a cane in this scene. And then, right before the episode ends, a woman arrives to collect charity donations for the blind... only to find herself addressing three people in sunglasses, one of whom is walking with a cane. Cue very sheepish silence.
- Boris: Used In-Universe in the Soap Within a Show The Eyes of the Heart, where Stanis's character Giorgio goes blind after the Wham Episode and starts wearing sunglasses. Stanis tries to protest because he doesn't want to play a blind character, until the writers tell him they intend to make Giorgio a Handicapped Badass, who is still able to be the best doctor in town, despite his blindness.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine: When Boyle is apparently temporarily blinded during laser-eye surgery, he wears sunglasses to signify this.
- Jim Brass is left almost blind in the CSI limited series CSI: Vegas and he’s wearing sunglasses because light can bother him.
- Daredevil (2015). Matt Murdoch, legally blinded by a chemical spill on him when he was a child, sports a pair of red sunglasses. His Super-Senses do allow him to see, albeit in a very different way, but he wears the glasses and carries a white cane to conceal this ability.
- Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor wears "sonic sunglasses" when he's temporarily blinded. Justified since they transmit a limited amount of visual information directly to his brain.
- The Flash (2014): Played with. When Barry is temporarily blinded by the Villain of the Week, he wears a pair of sunglasses on his date with Patty to hide said blindness (and avoid having to explain how it happened) rather than indicate it. The glasses also give live video feed to Cisco, who attempts to guide him through the evening via earpiece. However, Patty figures out he can't see partway through, prompting Barry to take off the glasses to show her the truth.
Patty: Come on, I would not be a good detective if I couldn't figure this one out.
- House of Anubis: When Amber is blinded by one of the chamber's traps, she spends the day wearing sunglasses, to the confusion of her non-Sibuna friends.
- After Dean Fogg is blinded in the early episodes of The Magicians, he takes to wearing sunglasses.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury: Master Swoop wears sunglasses, though he does take them off at one point just to confirm that he is without eyesight (out of irritation over Theo waving his hand in front of his face).
- In the Psych episode "Cog Blocked", Shawn and Gus come to investigate a blind woman wearing sunglasses. Downplayed because while she turns out to not be blind, she really does have an eye condition that necessitates wearing sunglasses.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Time's Arrow: Part II", when the Enterprise officers go back in time to 1893, the blind Geordi La Forge wears sunglasses to cover his blindness since he can't wear his VISOR in this time period.
- The Who released "Pinball Wizard" in 1969 as part of their album "Tommy", which depicts Tommy wearing sunglasses. According to the lyrics: "That deaf, dumb, and blind kid / Sure plays mean pinball." Some combination of intuition and sense of smell lets Tommy know the table layout and ball trajectory well enough to attain the high score roster. How can this be? Well, since Tommy is a pinball wizard, then A Wizard Did It.
- Final Fantasy:
- Wu Zi Mu in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has on a pair of rectangular shades and is revealed to be blind after about a week of racing CJ in the Badlands. One of his assistants explains that the reason he is still able to race while blind is that he was blessed with unbelievable luck, earning him the nickname "The Lucky Mole."
- The protagonist of Ian's Eyes — Ian — is blind, and sports a pair of shades.
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy: having been blinded in a childhood accident, Movement operative Jov Leonov always wears a pair of opaque green spectacles to hide his sunken eye sockets. Right before his boss battle, Leonov removes the glasses to freak out Nick Scryer, making it clear that the Meat Puppet escorting him is there so he can see through its own eyes.
- Played with in The Secret World: Council of Venice operative Carmen Preda is blind in one eye, courtesy of a hunt gone wrong. When she's off duty in Venice, she covers up the scarring with a large pair of sunglasses; in the field, though, Carmen goes barefaced at all times.
- Tsuki Adventure: Leonard, a blind tourist seen on the trip back from Hareshima, wears sunglasses.
- Played with in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. While Machi Tobaye is a Blind Musician who wears sunglasses to emphasize this, he turns out to not really be blind. The actual Blind Musician, Lamiroir, doesn't wear sunglasses.
- Zero Time Dilemma: Delta wears tea shades, but he's only pretending to be blind. The sunglasses are mostly there to hide his bizarre purple eyes.
- Averted by Lilly Satou from Katawa Shoujo, who is blind but doesn't wear glasses. She does usually have her eyes closed, but it's unclear to what extent that is because they're covered in somewhat unseemly cataracts and to what because she simply doesn't use them. Another character is legally blind and does wear very large, thick glasses, but that's to allow him (some measure) of sight.
- Terezi Pyrope of Homestuck, who is blind, wears distinctive red shades. She also carries a cane that she uses to "stab her way around".
- The Order of the Stick: Old Blind Pete (formerly Eagle-Eye Pete) wears tea shades, in case the nickname and the eye-bruising purple-and-orange outfit weren't enough of a hint. Might be because the Thieves' Guild stabbed out his eyes — twice — in retribution for selling its secrets.
- Postcards In Braille: The blind main character, Sigma, used to wear black glasses before his friend Rho helped him swap them out for red goggles.
- Clone High: Joan of Arc's foster grandpa is a blind old man with sunglasses that are revealed to hide the gaping holes where his eyes should be.
- Family Guy: In the episode "Blind Ambition", Peter goes blind due to nickel poisoning. Following this, he starts wearing sunglasses.
- Futurama: Kirk, one of Leela's former bullies at the orphanarium, is a blind kid with round sunglasses. When Leela runs into him at the orphans' reunion, he looks almost the same, with the same sunglasses. He's also become deaf on top of being blind.
- Hey Arnold!:
- Helga invokes this in the episode "April Fools' Day". When she pretends to be blind, she wears sunglasses.
- In "Das Subway", the kids get stuck on the subway with a few other adults in the same car, one of which is a Blind Black Guy wearing sunglasses that harasses Harold in particular for being fat.
- Fontaine in John Callahan's Quads! has a pair of sunglasses covering up his blind eyes (which aren't even eyes so much as they're Xs).
- Looney Tunes: In the short Daffy Duck and Egghead, Daffy responds to Egghead's inability to shoot him by giving him sunglasses and a cupful of pencils, and also puts a "BLIND" sign around his neck.
- Phoebe's father in The Magic School Bus is blind, and is seen wearing a pair of sunglasses.
- In Miraculous Ladybug, Kagami's mother Tomoe, a famous Blind Weaponmaster, wears sunglasses over her eyes.
- Terrance in The Replacements is blind, and, of course, wears sunglasses.
- Xiaolin Showdown: The blind old man from the episode "Treasure of the Blind Swordsman'' wears sunglasses. He doesn't need the eyes to see, though.
- Many blind people are light-sensitive or legally blind. They can still get migraines or the light hurts their eyes. Others do it to disguise the fact that their eyes won't focus as a sighted person's would. Then there are those who don't bother with sunglasses and don't care what sighted people think.
- Ray Charles, a real-life Blind Musician, wore sunglasses in most public appearances.
- Subverted in the case of pop musician Roy Orbison. Because he wore sunglasses whenever he was on stage, many people assumed Orbison was blind. Though plagued with poor eyesight, that wasn't the case. At one point, the singer forgot his regular glasses while on tour and decided to wear his shades instead. He liked the look, and this subsequently became his trademark image.
- Stevie Wonder, likewise a Blind Musician, is known for wearing sunglasses. He's also been known to take them off to bring levity/jokes about his disability (i.e. "reading" a music awards winner card).