Dips in the road. Lane demarcations. Headlight glare. Whether or not you wear glasses, driving at night puts a strain on the eyes. In fact, Driving at Night Proves Dangerous for some 32% of drivers who say they struggle seeing at least part of the time at night. This is one reason, states the Federal Highway Administration, that about half of all traffic fatalities occur at night though only about a quarter of total driving takes place then. (Note that drunk driving and drowsy driving contribute largely to these fatalities too.) Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut solutions to the problem many drivers have with seeing while driving at dusk and dawn as well as after dark.
While some individuals turn to night driving glasses, which are readily available at retailers, experts express great caution and even warn against doing so. This 2-part series serves to educate the consumer and to somewhat mitigate this controversial topic. In addition, this series will provide additional suggestions for reducing the vision challenges that so many drivers face at night as well as at dawn and dusk.
Sources of Night Vision Problems
Assuring the best night vision possible begins with first making sure the eyes themselves are healthy. This means getting eyes examined regularly and always wearing up-to-date prescriptions. Before deciding to use tinted lenses for nighttime driving, make sure you have taken the following steps to improve your individual driving circumstances.
- Clean lenses, windshields and headlights. Make sure all of these surfaces are free of dust and smears. Keeping these surfaces clean goes a long way in reducing eye strain. In fact, with regard specifically to headlights, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that “even a thin layer of road grime on lenses can block up to 90 percent of light and severely restrict your ability to see at night.” AAA also says that “for maximum glare prevention, keep every surface between your eyes and the road as clear as possible – including both sides of your windshield and your eyeglasses.” Make a habit of cleaning your glasses regularly and clean the windows in your vehicle as well as the headlights at least once a month.
- Investigate possible causes of night vision problems. Poor night vision may be a sign of a serious health condition including vitamin deficiencies, cataracts as well as other significant health problems. In fact, the first sign of cataracts is often decreased night vision with blurry vision also being common. Deficiencies in Vitamin A or Zinc can also cause problems with night vision. Sunlight exposure can also cause eyes to struggle seeing at night, which is yet another reason to wear quality sunglasses that protect against the sun’s harmful rays. See your eye doctor when you first experience night vision problems to make sure a treatable health problem isn’t the source.
- Use antireflective coating if you already wear prescription eyeglasses. Laramy-K Optical suggests using anti-reflective coating on prescription eyeglasses as the best option for nighttime driving. Doing so can minimize reflections within the glasses themselves, reduce halo problems, and increase the transmittance of light through the lens to the eye. However, and this is significant, if a person does not normally wear prescription eyeglasses, Laramy-K Optical says that an AR coating on any other type of glasses will not be helpful for improving nighttime vision while driving.
The above suggestions provide the best and least controversial routes for improving night vision. Additional solutions such as using tinted lenses or night-vision goggles involve going down a dim road with no clear-cut answers. This topic will be explored in two weeks in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 2.