Editorial Feature

Glare - What is Glare and How Does it Occur?


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Article updated on 03/03/20 by Mihaela Dimitrova

What is Glare?

When there is an excessive contrast between the dark areas and bright areas in the direction of viewing, then glare can result. Simply, when there is too much light hitting the surface, this phenomenon will cause glare.

Glare can happen both during the day and at night. Examples of where glare can occur include moving from a shaded location into bright sunlight, and the reflection of light from a surface that is shiny and highly reflective.

Safety Issues Regarding Glare

Glare is often considered a safety issue, especially for road users such as drivers, pedestrians, and road workers. Due to the presence of bright light or lights that are shielded poorly around roads, glare may unexpectedly blind pedestrians and drivers partially, leading to potentially fatal road accidents.

Different Classifications of Glare

Glare can be divided into three types:

  • Blinding or Reflected glare
  • Disability Glare
  • Discomfort Glare

Blinding or Reflected Glare

Blinding glare can be described as the glare that is, for example, caused by staring directly into the sun. Meanwhile, reflected glare can be described as light reflecting off surfaces that are smooth and shiny, such as sand, snow, or water. Similar to blinding glare, vision can be blocked if the reflected glare is strong enough. A simple and common approach to eliminating or reducing reflected glare is the utilization of polarized lenses.

Disability Glare

Disability glare can be best described as being blinded by a light source such as the oncoming lights from a vehicle. Similar to blinding glare, disability glare can also block our vision or at least significantly reduce our vision capabilities. This is due to a sudden increase in the contrast.

Discomfort Glare

Discomfort glare is caused by situations such as spending prolonged time in a snowfield under bright sunlight. Discomfort glare can occur in any weather condition as well as at any time of the day. Discomfort glare is also found to arise under different conditions of light, depending on the sensitivity of the individual it affects. This type of glare may lead to short-lived fatigue of the eyes.

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