Driving at Night
The winter months are often associated with awful weather and shorter days. In this blog we talk about how you can be better prepared for driving at night.
A common complaint in our testing rooms is one of difficulties when driving at night. Symptoms of poor vision at night are various, with complaints ranging from not being able to see signs or number plates as clearly to suffering from excessive glare from oncoming headlights. Whilst these issues can be described by nearly all drivers, they are much more common in drivers over 501
As we get older, our vision tends to decline. Changes to our corneas and crystalline lenses cause less light to enter our eyes and the light that does enter the eye is scattered. This reduces focus and increases glare, making it more difficult to see2. Your pupils dilate (get bigger) in darker conditions to help let more light in, but this can make you more susceptible to glare from oncoming headlights 1,2.
What can you do to make it easier to drive at night?
Clean Your Windscreen
A dirty windscreen may not be too bothersome during daylight hours, but as soon as the night draws in, the dirt on your windscreen scatters light and causes glare3,4. A clean windscreen will help prevent this, so do your best to keep it clean!
Clean Your Glasses
For the same reason you need to keep your windscreen clear, dirty and smudged glasses can scatter the light and cause glare3. For an optimum clean, use a lens spray and microfibre lens cloth the clean your lenses. Lens cleaning sprays, cloths and kits are available in all 20 of our stores.
Dim the Dash and Night-Mode Your Satnav
Most cars allow you to adjust the dashboard and onboard monitor brightness. A dimmer dashboard will help keep your eyes adjusted to darker conditions and make it easier to switch between your speedometer and the road. Switching your satnav to night-mode will also minimise the brightness and help prevent it being reflected from the inside of your windscreen and obscuring your view of the road ahead.
Anti-Reflective Lens Coatings
An anti-reflective coating increases the performance of your glasses, meaning more light reaches your eyes instead of being reflected off the surfaces of the lenses. This coating helps to reduce glare3,4 and, when applied on the back-surface of your lenses, will help to prevent light from the headlights behind you from dazzling you.
Throw Out the Tints
Some companies provide yellow-tinted glasses for driving at night. Whilst they may reduce glare, they also reduce the amount of light entering the eye, potentially causing further issues with your night vision4. Section 94 of the Highway Code states, “At night or in poor visibility, do not use tinted glasses, lenses or visors if they restrict your vision”5. British Standards stating that any lens that lets through less than 75% of light should not be used at night or twilight6, so if you do use these glasses, make sure they abide by these standards. Our team of dispensing opticians are happy to advise you on any concerns you may have regarding the suitability of your glasses for night driving.
Night-Setting on the Rear-View Mirror
Most cars have a function that can dim the rear-view mirror2. Older cars may have a manual switch to flick to enable, but modern cars may do this for you automatically. Dimming of the mirror will reduce the amount of light reflected into your eyes from the headlights from vehicles behind you, minimising glare and distractions.
Optometrists always recommend having a spare pair of glasses as they can save you in times of loss or breakage. It is advisable to have a spare pair of glasses in your car, so that you can always have optimal vision when on the road. Talk to our team of dispensers and dispensing opticians on how a spare pair may benefit you.
Regular Eye Examinations
Optometrists recommend an eye examination at least once every 2 years, or more frequently if advised. Many conditions of the eye are detected at eye examinations and some of these can affect your ability to drive at night. Cataracts, macular degeneration or even an expired prescription can cause issues on the road, so stay up to date and book an eye examination with Haine & Smith Opticians today.
1. Gruber N , Mosimann UP, Muri RM, and Nef T (2012). Vision and night driving abilities of elderly drivers. Traffic Injury Prevention 14(5): 477-485. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15389588.2012.727510)
2. Hwang AD, Tuccar-Burak M, Goldstein R, and Peli E (2018). Impact of oncoming headlight glare with cataracts: a pilot study. Frontiers in Psychology. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00164/full [Accessed: December 12th 2019]. 3. The AA. Seeing is believing – keeping your vision clear inside your car. Available at: https://www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/advice/keeping-a-clear-windscreen [Accessed: December 12th 2019].
4. The College of Optometrists (2019). Driving and vision. Available at: https://lookafteryoureyes.org/eye-care/driving-and-vision/ [Accessed: December 12th 2019].
5. The Highway Code (2019) Rules for drivers and motorcyclists (89-102). Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-drivers-and-motorcyclists-89-to-102 [Accessed: December 12th 2019].
6. British Standards Institution (2013) BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013: Eye and face protection. Sunglasses and related eyewear. Sunglasses for general use. Para 532.