Plenty of misconceptions exists 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. But can lens color provide any solutions to nighttime driving vision problems?

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 somewhat 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.” They 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

This goal is achieved using almost any tint other than clear. However, the need to reduce glare from oncoming headlights usually applies in the dark when headlights appear even brighter by contrast. This type of glare is different than that generated by the sun. Thus, a polarized lens, which is by far the best for reducing sun glare, will not have the same benefit against headlights.

Night Driving Glare

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

A dark mirror lens would likely be most useful to reduce headlight glare. Unfortunately, this type of lens is neither practical nor advisable in the dark. Arguably, the best alternative then is an indoor/outdoor lens with a light mirror coating over a clear lens. However, even this type of lens only allows 50-60% light transmission so that it will darken not just the view of the lights but total surroundings as well. Obviously, this presents a danger with the already dark conditions of nighttime.

So what’s the best choice?

Experts at Safety Glasses USA advise customers to “please choose wisely,” and to cease using any lens if it impairs vision. Customers 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.

The bottom line is, having perfect vision for driving at dawn, dusk or nighttime just isn’t possible. The first approach should be to remove any obstacles to clear vision, such as those suggested in Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 1.

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.

By | 2017-10-26T15:00:16+00:00 January 4th, 2016|All Posts, Featured Post, Safety Tips|18 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.

18 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.

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