Plenty of misconceptions exist about night driving, and night driving eyewear is a highly sought-after product. In addition to some significant considerations to keep in mind, drivers must realize that there is no catch-all solution.

Before trying night vision eyewear for driving, be sure to employ the tips provided in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1 as well as the additional tips offered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

If night driving eyewear still interests you after considering the other options available, keep in mind the following points regarding eyewear that may or may not improve night vision.

Lens Color and Night Vision

There are two main reasons people look for night driving glasses. First, they want to enhance contrast and depth perception in dim light. Second, they want to reduce glare from oncoming headlights. However, can lens color provide any solutions to nighttime driving vision problems? Let’s find out.

Enhancing Contrast and Depth Perception

Improving contrast and depth perception when driving at night can only be achieved during the few hours before and during dusk or at other times that are dim without being dark. A yellow/amber lens can brighten surroundings using the small amount of light available. However, these lenses require the presence of some light since benefits are lost when darkness fully descends. After dark, not much can help improve visibility.

Even with the possibility of a yellow/amber lens improving visibility for some people and in some conditions, the use of any tint once dusk hits are controversial.

In fact, eye experts at Laramy-K Optical strongly discourage the use of yellow lenses for dusk and night driving because “ANY tint further reduces the amount of light transmitted to the eye.”

Experts also quote –

Dr. Merrill J. Allen from the Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety who says that yellow lenses can “actually impair visual performances and retard glare recovery.”

Reducing Glare from Oncoming Headlights

One of the most common complaints when it comes to night driving is headlight glare. Which leads to a common question. What lens features or color will help reduce headlight glare?

First, let’s dispel some common misconceptions about eyewear and headlight glare.

  1. Polarized lenses will help with headlight glare. False. The glare caused by the headlights of oncoming traffic is different than the glare generated by the sun so a polarized lens will not offer the same benefits against headlight glare. Plus, polarized lenses typically use dark lens tints, which dramatically reduces visible light transmission. Which means your night vision would be reduced to nearly zero.
  2. Eyewear with mirrored lenses will reduce headlight glare. False. Unfortunately, this type of lens is neither practical nor advisable in the dark. Even an indoor/outdoor lens which features a light mirror coating over a clear lens only allows 50-60% light transmission. Obviously, this presents a danger with the already dark conditions of nighttime.
  3. Wearing eyewear with an anti-reflective coating will reduce headlight glare. Partially True. Prescription eyewear with an anti-reflective coating will slightly reduce headlight glare. However, non-prescription eyewear with AR coatings is still not recommended.
Night Driving Glare

Tinted lenses may reduce glare, but they also darken your entire surroundings.

So what’s the best choice?

Vision Experts advise customers to “please choose wisely,” and to cease using any lens if it impairs vision. Everyone must realize there is no perfect or ideal type of night driving glasses. There are just too many variables. A person’s sensitivity to light, natural ability to see in the dark, varying environmental light conditions and driver objectivity have to be considered.

Tips with the most significant improvement in reducing headlight glare

The bottom line is, having perfect vision for driving at nighttime just isn’t possible. However, the night driving tips we suggested in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1, and listed below will provide the most significant improvements to nighttime driving and battling with headlight glare. Here’s a quick overview.

  1. Clean your eyewear lenses, windshield, and headlights.
  2. Dim your dashboard lights.
  3. Use anti-reflective coatings on prescription eyeglasses.
  4. See your eye doctor when you first experience night vision problems.

Should you choose to experiment with night driving glasses or even with various lens tints, know that eye experts warn against this as a safe option.

Do you have any questions or comments? Please leave a comment below.

By | 2018-11-17T17:13:31+00:00 October 5th, 2018|All Posts, Featured Post, Safety Tips|46 Comments

About the Author:

Michael Eldridge is a US Marine Veteran and the founder of SafetyGlassesUSA.com. He's passionate about protective eyewear and promoting vision safety. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, fishing, CrossFit, mountain biking, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball.

46 Comments

  1. Cecil Barrack February 21, 2017 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Nice advice. I have a close friend who like myself has difficulty driving at night. I was thinking of buying her a pair of yellow tint glasses. When I mentioned it to her, she said her son had already tried that option and it didn’t help. Thank you for a timely education. 🙂
    I really was in the mind of buying two pair. One for each of us! You saved me $60!! Thanks.

    • Michael Eldridge February 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Cecil,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. I’m glad my article helped save your hard earned money.

  2. Dalavi March 4, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Thank You! for the correct information. Can be the advertisements mentioning ‘night vision glasses’ called a case of misleading customers?

  3. Jaja toddler March 6, 2017 at 4:19 am - Reply

    Yeah, I found that out too, the yellow tint is a waste of time.

  4. RCreed March 17, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    david, Thanks for info as it helped me make a bad choice based on a motorcycle blog. Problem is I need something when I i ride a motorcycle that offers a bi-focal and protection from wind and debris. What would you suggest I use

    • Michael Eldridge March 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Hello RCreed,

      Thanks for leaving a question.

      We’ve received lots of positive feedback from customers who wear the Elvex Bifocal Go-Specs while riding a motorcycle. The bifocals allow them to see their bike’s instruments and the foam gasket blocks the wind and debris.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. Bill Moore June 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the info! Truck driver by trade and over 60 now I was also looking into tinted glasses. I do wear glasses full time and for night driving have a pair of clear lenses with an anti reflection coating. Looks like I already have every thing I need. You saved me the price of a pair of prescription glasses. Keeping every thing clean and not looking into on coming headlights as well as keeping your dash lights dim. Covers it all I guess. Thanks again.

    • Michael Eldridge June 14, 2017 at 10:57 am - Reply

      Thanks for leaving a comment Bill. It appears you’re doing everything right and I’m happy this article saved you some hard earned money. Stay safe.

    • Jhae October 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Hi, what clear lens pair do you you recommend? Can you provide a link. Thanks so much

  6. Pauline July 21, 2017 at 1:17 am - Reply

    I had cataracts removed and have really great vision with the Symfony lens implants. I no longer need prescription glasses. But at night lights have “rays” shooting forth around them. Any suggestions for helping to cut down that glare? Thank you so much.

    • Michael Eldridge July 28, 2017 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Pauline,

      Thank you for the question.

      First, I’m happy to learn you no longer need prescription glasses, that has to be a major relief.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with cataract surgery. I recommend talking to your eye care provider and see what they recommend.

  7. Aletha September 29, 2017 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    I too thank you for your helpful article and for encouraging comments/questions. I already bought a $20 pair of yellow tinted lenses with a “non-glare coating” as I share Pauline’s predicament. I was excited to go out and see where I was going but the only benefit from them was less eye tension–absolutely no difference in glare or visibility. So now I know, without wasting more time or money, that my only hope is my eye doctor. Meanwhile, I can return the Walmart glasses–and stay home after dark. (Boo)

    • Michael Eldridge September 29, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Aletha,

      Thank you for the nice words. I hope your eye doctor can give you some good news.

  8. Rei October 29, 2017 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the article,but I’m still looking for something to wear at night while riding my motorcycle. I’m still torn about the yellow timt versus the clear. I have no medial issue with sight just want to be able to see enter and keep the wind out. What do you recommend???
    Thanks Rei

    • Michael Eldridge October 31, 2017 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Rei,

      Thanks for submitting your question.

      You have read the article, so you already know about the benefits and drawbacks of Yellow lenses, Indoor/Outdoor lenses, and virtually anything that’s tinted.

      A lighter but effective alternative to your typical Indoor/Outdoor lens is the CSP lens from Bolle. At 63% light transmission, it offers better visibility while still reflecting much of the glare. The perceived light transmission is higher than the technical value, in my opinion. That is, it offers better visibility than the transmission percent would suggest, and the rest of the benefits are there. This lens also has an excellent anti-fog coating. Clicking here will show you the results for a “CSP” search on our website. The Silium Plus is the lightest in weight and offers the thinnest temples for under-helmet use. The Baxter will provide the best wind seal, but may not be as comfortable with a helmet. The wrapping Rush Plus is the most popular for general use.

      Yellow is still an option for a glare related problem for some people. While it won’t offer the same reflecting benefits of those mentioned above – there is no mirror coating on yellow/amber to help reflect – it is just slightly dimmer than Clear (technically), and may still offer the “brightest” perceived view. But a Yellow lens does not solve the glare problem for many people. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know if it will help you without trying it first.

      Ultimately, choosing any lens, whether for night driving or any other application, comes down to need and personal preference. Is reducing glare more important than retaining a bright view? Or maybe glare isn’t a huge issue, and you want something that seems to brighten up your surroundings. We can provide facts and our opinion, but you’ll need to make the final call based on your specific needs. Even so-called industry and vision experts disagree on what is best, safest, and most effective for night use. Perhaps this says it best. One of the last paragraphs of the post states, “…there is no perfect or ideal type of night driving glasses. There are just too many variables. A person’s sensitivity to light, natural ability to see in the dark, varying environmental light conditions and driver objectivity have to be considered.”

      In any case, one thing all experts agree on is that if one determines that any lens impairs or darkens one’s vision too much, he or she should cease using the lens in that environment immediately.

      Regarding styles, some riders like Goggles, some prefer Glasses, and some like the ability to switch to either. We often call them Convertibles. They come with temples and a goggle strap and are easily changeable to either format. You’ll find that many of these convertibles are also in the Motorcycle Goggles category that is linked above. On any of these pages, use the filters on the left margin to get more specific with your choices.

      I hope this helps. Safe riding.

  9. Almarma November 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Hi,

    Thinking about this glasses and based on what I know about how the eye works, I though that the principle on which yellow tint glasses are based on is that when you get the light from other cars, the pupil closes to protect the eye, and the yellow tint reduces the shine from the light, so the pupil can stay more open so the eye will receive more light. Isn’t it happening?

    I know Formula 1 drivers use yellow tint visors on their helmets during night time races like Singapur, so I suppose somebody is recommending them to use them. I think the theoretic fact about the open pupil should work but I’m not sure if the actual yellow tint glasses do it. Can you provide some further information about it?

    Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Fair question, Almarma, and it’s the reason there is still uncertainty about this topic. Logically, what you’re suggesting makes sense, but it doesn’t exactly work that way. It’s pretty common knowledge that a yellow or pale amber lens will give the perception of brightened surroundings. This makes people think that yellow will brighten any view, even during dark night driving. This, combined with the thought that some tint (non-clear) will block glare, made these lenses seem like the answer.

      There are a couple misconceptions with yellow lenses, however. While they appear to brighten your view, they will require at least some ambient light to achieve this. In a dark environment, no tint will actually lighten your view for real. Also, yellow lenses don’t block as much glare as some think. We don’t have a good method for empirically measuring this, but yellow doesn’t block enough glare to help significantly. The light transmission of clear lenses is usually 88-94%. Some lenses will get you 96%. Yellow lenses can also get up to or near 88%, meaning the difference in light transmission between clear and yellow is minimal. Yellow will block some blue light, however. Since blue light scatters more with its shorter wavelength, it can impair the sharpness of one’s view. Therefore, blocking blue light can improve sharpness. So yellow’s claim to fame is that it is the lightest color (lets most light in) that will block (some) blue light for a sharper view.

  10. Armycat December 9, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you Sir for your military service and informative article.
    A brain injury left me with no depth perception and loss of peripheral. I’ve been having great difficulty at night driving. I was considering night glasses, but after reading this article I’ve decided to stop night driving all together. I can handle driving at night in town, but not interstate or rural roads. This article re-affirmed what I already knew but didn’t want to believe. I will not be night driving for safety issues for myself and other drivers. Blessings to you!

    • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      Armycat,

      Thank you for the kind words, and I’m sorry to learn of your condition. Regarding your night driving, it sounds like you’ve made an informed decision and chose safety over all else. Kudos and blessings to you.

  11. Lynn December 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Most of my social life is at night! I am 72 and this glare issue started post cataract surgery 5 years ago. I do not recommend Toriq replacemant lenses. Medicare approved lenses seem the best.It seems highway driving is not a problem but driving in a town is treacherous. The glare is truly debilitating and not safe for people in my path. The new LED lights are also an issue. The company that can solve this problem will be a billion dollar success.

    • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Yes, Lynn, you’re right, there is definitely demand for night-driving lenses that work.

  12. Jim Eitel December 21, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    I definitely dislike night driving on 2 lane roads without streetlights, especially hwne there is one car after another 1) It seems that newer headlights are brighter and more likely to cause temporary blindness. 2) Blue-eyed people tend to constrict their pupils more and let less light in. 3) I noticed my headlights were not lighting up reflectors very well, so besides c;eaning head lamps, I will have the aim adjusted. Thanks for covering this topic.

    • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks for following us.

  13. asif January 22, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    I think there is easy solution in form of night vision and thermal googles which has sensers and lcd display. but they should be manufactured in slim size and lighter like vr googles to use them while driving at night

    • Jeff January 30, 2018 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Yes, we’ve considered that night vision technology could possibly be incorporated into basic eyewear somehow, but it must all be affordable and widely available.

  14. Scott January 23, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I can tell you I have seen these for years. I thought they where scams. My friend had a set and allowed me to try them. Where I can see that they slightly reduce visibility, I believe the pros out weigh the cons. I feel much safer with these on. I am typically blinded by the new ultra bright lights. As I age, I can not refocus quick enough to see the road. So if I have car after car of headlight to get past, these allow me to constantly see the road. When no other cars are on comming, I personally can see a reduction in visiblity. But to say they do not help vision against the on coming cars I disagree with. I am excited that finally I can see the road. I can deal with glare it’s the new ultra bright lights that blind me. No more being blinded with these.

    • Jeff January 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Thank you for reading and for your comment. I don’t know to which specific glasses or lenses you refer, so I cannot speak about those directly. I should clarify that we did not suggest glasses do not help with vision or glare for oncoming vehicles, but it needs to be understood that there are a several variables to consider, and no solution works for everyone. Additionally, while some lenses do absolutely help with light brightness and glare, those same lenses will often (usually) reduce visibility elsewhere. As it is not practical for a driver to don glasses only when vehicles approach, one must wear something that also provides adequate visibility in the moments when no other traffic or lights exist, and therein lies the dilemma and challenge.

  15. Eade March 4, 2018 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    I drive truck and have found and others may have seen truck drivers leaving a light on in the truck to keep us from getting tired. The light on keeps the eyes dialated so there not straining and making us tired.

    • Jeff March 9, 2018 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      I understand the dilemma there, Eade. To clarify, the eyes are more dilated (pupils are larger to let light in) when the light is off, but I see where you’re going. I would think you’re better served to have the light off in the cab, especially at night. Any light in the cab will also create a negative contrast during night driving, significantly reducing visibility. Your best solution, especially during medium to bright light conditions, is invest in a pair of good sunglasses. I recommend polarized to reduce the glare, and also a tint like brown or copper that reduces blue light transmission. No joke – polarized brown or copper lenses, and your eyes will thank you over and over.

  16. Holocomb c3R March 11, 2018 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Hello this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know
    if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Jeff March 19, 2018 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Holocomb, that will likely depend on your platform. We can manually code, or we can use a handful of basic buttons to drop the code in place.

  17. Rachel June 20, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your service.
    This is a very informative article.
    I have prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses.
    I recently got my US driver’s license and night driving scares me.
    My night-vision isn’t very good to begin with.
    I currently live in a city with very few street lights.
    I may be wrong but I think the lack of street lights makes the oncoming car glare stronger than if the streets are sufficiently lit. (In a different city with great lighting I was fine to drive at night)
    If cars are coming toward me from the opposite lane I can’t see.
    Please would you recommend an anti-reflective pair of glasses that can be worn OVER my prescription glasses? (Or do you know if there is such a thing as prescription night glasses?)
    Thank you!

    • Jeff June 25, 2018 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Rachel, it’s a shame that there isn’t a perfect solution for this problem. Many people share your struggle. It is plausible that reduced lighting makes the glare seem worse. Your pupils are likely dilated somewhat to allow more light in when it’s darker around you. The oncoming lights will then seem brighter. It’s difficult to find a lens that works for someone at night — no lens works for everyone — and this article addresses that issue. Options in over-the-glass styles are even harder to come by. There are links to two lens groups here, Amber (yellow) and Indoor/Outdoor. Neither is a true anti-reflective option, but the I/O has a light mirror coating to block additional light. Please note that any lens tint technically reduces all the light coming to your eyes, not only oncoming headlights. If you find that any lens is too dark to see adequately, you should immediately cease using them. I am not aware of any prescription night glasses at this time.

  18. Oba Apondele July 20, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the education. You’ve saved me a great deal of money. Over here where I live, I would have had to pay twice the average cost in the US. I wear prescription lenses and had been looking into buying yellow-tinted wrap arounds to wear over them at night. I used to have excellent night vision but for the last one year or there about I have noticed a great reduction in my visual accutity. Guess it has to do with aging.

    • Jeff July 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Oba. We struggle with that as well.

  19. Jeff mergen August 11, 2018 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    This is Jeff at the Iowa Greyhound Park I announce races for a living but I’m having trouble distinguishing the blanket colors at night…. However keep in mind a possible solution would have to consider that we do have lights on the race track this is an unusual situation aside from surgery of some kind any suggestions?

    • Michael Eldridge August 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your question, Jeff.

      As I get older, I’ve noticed my color recognition has diminished especially in low-light environments. It’s possible an anti-reflective lens coating may help, but there are no guarantees. I would avoid using tinted lenses as that would only reduce the amount of ambient light you’re eyes are receiving and could distort the blanket colors even more. In my opinion, your comment about using the race track lights is probably the best solution.

  20. Itsabreeze August 12, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    This might seem like a stupid question but why can’t truck drivers who drive overnight wear night vision goggles like the military have to see better while driving?

    • Michael Eldridge August 20, 2018 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      That’s an interesting idea, but in my opinion, wouldn’t work in practical application. In my experience (which is limited), night vision goggles are designed to gather as much light as possible to render an image. This extreme light sensitivity would make oncoming headlights, streetlights and other forms of artificial light blinding or cause the goggles to turn off. Plus, most NVG’s only project an image in a single color, either green or black and white so you would lose most if not all of your color recognition.

      As a side note. Several automakers have offered a variety of “night vision” and thermal vision features on their cars over the years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_night_vision

  21. Mary B September 3, 2018 at 12:01 am - Reply

    I just found your article. I am night blind and wear contacts. I suffer from migraines and have to be careful of the glasses I wear. I got really excited when you mention the clear glasses then clicked on the link and saw how bulky they are.
    I just started driving for uber which was a great accomplishment for me between all of mine and my daughter’s doctor and PT appointments as I’ve been trying to find a job any job for the last 2 years in my field that fits into our schedule with no luck, now that they have my headaches under control Uber is it but I can’t drive at night since I want to keep myself and the passengers safe.
    I can’t tell you how many of my friends have tried to get me to buy those glasses and I could tell by looking at them that it would impair me more, and several friends thought I was making an excuse not to drive at night. They are too dark. I’m night blind. Besides the glare, it’s dark roads. So I’m going to google to see if I can find some lighter frames.
    I live in Las Vegas and drive on the strip. That would give me at least an hour after dusk I bet.
    Thank you for the information.

  22. Jude November 17, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    I have a problem that I don’t see mentioned here or in other sites about night driving. From October to May, we get mainly rainy weather so there’s a lot of reflected light from wet road surfaces and tiny raindrops on my windshield (that act like hundreds of mini-lights between swipes of the wiper blades). In city driving, street lighting makes night driving acceptable for me if i know the route but on highways, I find it difficult.

    Add to that, pickup headlights are high enough and angled so they shine directly at my eye level. It also seems that many opt for extremely bright blue-white headlights now. It may help them see better at night but makes it worse for me especially on the frequet rainy nights.

    I know good wiper blades and a properly cleaned windshield make a difference but the finer dirty road spray from passing vehicles means I need to frequently use the washer spray to try to keep it clean.

    I try to limit any night driving but don’t always have a choice. Do you have *any* other suggestions that might help me, please?

    • Michael Eldridge November 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Jude. Thank you for your question.

      Honestly, I feel your pain. Driving at night, in the rain is a real struggle for me, especially on freshly paved roads. The two tips that have helped me the most is keeping the inside of my windshield clean and turning on my fog lights. I’m always amazed at how fast and oily the inside of my windshield gets, especially in the summer months. A good vinegar based cleaner and newspaper will help cut through the grime.

      Turning on my foglights also helps me because it improves my peripheral vision and depth perception. I can see the shoulder and sides of the roads easier, which is very important if you live in deer country! Plus, your foglights also increase the shadows cast by road debris, which helps you see and avoid running over an object in the road.

      Hopefully, these tips will help you with the difficulties of driving at night in the rain. I wish I could offer more help.

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