Visual distraction occurs in several forms, such as unwanted reflections, glare, loud patterns, or even the hundreds of LED signs painting the buildings of Shibuya, Tokyo. We call this visual noise, as the brain is usually unable to filter them out.
Architecturally, we especially tend to deal with both unwanted reflections and glare a lot, where an undesired, excessively bright light is shining in the direction of a person’s face. This is typically caused by the poor arrangement of lighting, positioning, choice of material, or even a combination of the three. Fortunately, these can easily be avoided by understanding their different types and how they work.
In the case of glare, we mainly have two types, while both can be either direct or reflected they function differently: discomfort glare causes a direct irritation to the eye. For example, imagine sunlight being passed through a window directly reflected into your eyes.
Naturally, you would just look away, but in the case of disability glare, it is not so easily solved. Disability glare reduces our ability to perceive visual information, without necessarily causing any discomfort. This is due to the occurrence of veiling reflection, where an image or the light itself, is mirrored onto a task you are trying to perform, acting as a barrier between you and that task.
Veiling reflection is created by the veiling angle. To explain it simply, it happens when a ray of light falls onto an object, the light is then mirrored and reflected in the same angle. If you were to stand at that point of reflection of that light and look at that object, it would appear veiled by light, disabling you from seeing the object. Veiling reflection is an example of disability glare, it occurs when a light source is located in the offending zone, which basically means the area where veiling reflection is likely to occur.