By: Dr. Amber Teten – Eye Doctor
Driving at night can be a fun and exciting experience. The stars are out, and the roads are generally quieter. However, nighttime driving can be a task full of hesitation and uneasiness. All drivers of vehicles need to be extra cautious on the road, especially at night. Our eyesight can change with age, making it more difficult to see when the light is dim. We will discuss, from an eye doctor’s perspective, the difficulties of driving at night, how age can affect our vision, and tips for safer night driving. Ultimately, we will discuss how you and your eye doctor can team up to help you improve your vision.
Not only can changes in your vision effect your nighttime driving but see why your vision changes as discussed by an eye doctor.
The Difficulties of Night Driving
Driving at night can be challenging, even for those without corrective lenses and excellent vision. The lack of natural light can make it harder to see pedestrians, road signs, lines on the road, and other vehicles. It is difficult to see landmarks in the dark that was once visible in daylight made the journey more familiar. Additionally, glare from oncoming headlights can temporarily blind us and make it harder to see the road ahead.
Dr. Teten, an eye doctor, often gets asked, “Are headlights brighter than they used to be?” Yes, this is true. LED (light-emitting diode) headlights are popular in replacing the previously widely used halogen and HID (high-intensity discharge) lights. And many people are noticing a difference.
The human eye is more sensitive to higher wavelength red light than lower wavelength blue light. So, LED brightness increases when perceived by the eye, even though the measurement of lumens is the same. Also, in newer vehicle models, the headlight is often smaller than the headlights in older vehicle models. This size difference accounts for this brightness, as the intensity increases from a smaller light source.
As We Age, Night Driving Gets Harder
As we age, our eyesight naturally changes. It can become harder to see in low light, which makes driving at night more difficult. Our eyes take longer to adjust to changes in light, and we may also experience a decrease in depth perception and contrast sensitivity. These changes can make it harder to judge distances, see obstacles, and react to unexpected events on the road.
Is Your Eyesight Changing?
If you have trouble seeing at night, it may be time to check your eyes with an eye doctor. If you are driving age, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at minimum once yearly. It’s essential to have regular eye exams to monitor your eyesight, vision, and catch any changes early on. If you need glasses or contact lenses, make sure you wear them while driving at night. Many people will often have a restriction on their driver’s license, saying they are legally okay to drive only while wearing corrective lenses. Wearing the correct prescription can significantly improve your night vision and help you see more clearly.
When the lighting is dim at night, the pupil is large. The ambient light is not constricting the pupil. The pupil can be thought of as a window. A smaller window, or pupil, in the daytime, means less light enters the eye. During the evening, with a larger pupil, more light comes through the larger opening to the eye, and this causes more problems with glare. Light beams can bounce into the eye in different directions and cause it difficult to see. Additionally, a large pupil will take more energy to move light farther back to the eye to be focused clearly. This can cause night myopia, or night nearsightedness, where wearing spectacle Rx at night driving or in poor light conditions is recommended.
Tips for Safer Night Driving
Here are some tips to help you drive safely at night:
- Clean your windshield and windows to ensure maximum visibility.
- Adjust your headlights properly to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distance.
- Use your high beams on open roads but switch to low beams when approaching other vehicles.
- Avoid looking directly at the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
- Take frequent breaks to rest your eyes and avoid fatigue.
- If it is raining or snowing, or nighttime, allow yourself extra time to arrive safely at your destination.
Following these tips can help ensure you drive safely at night and avoid potential accidents.
How Can We Help?
If you are experiencing difficulties driving at night, we can help. Our experienced eye doctor can assess your eyesight and provide you with the best possible solution. We offer various services, including eye exams, prescription glasses, and contact lenses, to help you see more clearly and confidently on the road.
We can also provide expert advice on night driving, including using anti-glare coatings on your glasses or lenses to help reduce glare from oncoming headlights. There is a different types of anti-glare coatings for lenses. There is one that is more adept at protecting your eyes from harmful blue light rays when using digital devices. There is one that is the very best for scratch resistance protection. And there is one that is the best for nighttime driving and Zoom/telework calls. Many patients comment that they do not like seeing the reflection of their glasses on the screen while they are on zoom. Additionally, we can provide tips and guidance on improving your night vision, such as getting regular exercise to improve blood flow to the eyes.
Driving at night can be challenging, but it can be safe and enjoyable with suitable precautions and solutions. As we age, we must monitor our eyesight and take steps to improve it if necessary. By following our tips and seeking help from our eye doctor and team, you can improve your night vision and drive with more confidence on the road.
So, if you have any issues with driving at night. We encourage you to call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment. We are equipped and prepared to care for you and your whole family. If you are looking for excellent service in a friendly manner, check us out. We highly recommend that you choose Navigation Eye Care when looking for a top eye doctor in Chesapeake. We will serve in the Chesapeake area for many years and can’t wait to see you and your family.