Night Vision

On August 25th, 2010, posted in: Caring for your Vision, Night Vision by


Making Night Driving Safer

For many drivers, vision is affected significantly by darkness. A driver with 20/20 vision during the day can experience a reduction of visual acuity to 20/40 at night. In fact, approximately one out of ten drivers actually needs special night driving glasses.

Darkness also restricts side vision and alters depth perception, which affects all drivers. Therefore, all drivers, even those who don’t need special night driving glasses, can make night driving safer by heeding these tips from the Pennsylvania Optometric Association:

  • Turn on headlights in pre-dawn hours and at dusk. These are the times when the contrast between sky brightness and pavement darkness makes seeing and being seen the most difficult.
  • If possible, avoid driving into a sunrise or sunset. Glare can be blinding, and it is more difficult to see details along the road during these times. If driving during these conditions cannot be avoided, take extra precautions and maintain extra distance between cars. Reduce speed when driving in the dark. Darkness limits a driver’s view to the length of the headlight beam.
  • Wear prescription lenses, if needed. Those experiencing difficulties seeing while driving at night should definitely discuss the problem with their optometrist.
  • Order an anti-reflection coating on clear eyeglass lenses to help reduce headlight glare. It is also helpful to scan the road by looking briefly back-and-forth between the side of the road and up ahead until the approaching car has passed.
  • Avoid night driving or limit it to well lighted or familiar streets if having difficulty seeing while driving at night. Because aging eyes need more light to see, the need to restrict night driving may increase as one grows older.
  • Wear sunglasses for driving and other outdoor daytime activities. Eyes aided by sunglasses during the day can adapt more easily and quickly to nighttime light levels. Do not wear sunglasses at night.
  • Keep headlights clean and properly adjusted for maximum benefit. Also keep windshields and other windows clean and wipers in good working order.
  • Have a thorough eye examination annually to be certain driving vision skills are up to par and that eyes are healthy. Driver license bureau eye tests are simply screenings and are no substitute for a thorough eye examination.

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