Some sports people wear "eye black" (black strips on the upper cheek) under glare conditions (sun or stadium lights) to reduce glare.

For example, one brand claims it is:

used on the field to help reduce the glare of the sun. The material is safe and tested, we have a full line of products that will improve the performance on the field or [provide branding].

Does eye-black make any difference to the ability of players to see?

  • The Wikipedia article cites a study which "concluded that eye black reduced glare of the sun and improved contrast sensitivity".
    – MetaEd
    Jan 9, 2012 at 23:15
  • 1
    I think the Mythbusters regarded it as either confirmed or plausible.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jan 10, 2012 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


Archives of Opthamology Vol. 121 No. 7, July 2003

Eye black grease reduces glare and improves contrast sensitivity in conditions of sunlight exposure compared with the control and antiglare stickers in binocular testing.

MythBusters: Viewer Special II

Turns out, indirect light does more than make players blink. It creates "veiling glare," which reduces their ability to see clearly. Wearing eye black won't keep this optical phenomenon from happening, but it can tone it down. The stripes improve the eye's ability to differentiate between light and dark, and that increased contrast means you can see in greater detail. The better you can see the minutia around you, the better you can track an object as its speed increases — which is obviously important to outfielders following a pop fly's sunward trajectory.

I don't follow Opthamology literature, or know much about it, but see no reason to doubt the results of the study.

  • 3
    One wonders why golf players don't use it, as one would think glare and contrast would be important to reading greens. Feb 4, 2013 at 20:00

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