Autumn is well and truly under way, the mornings are getting dark and the nights are drawing in. Many people find it difficult to drive at night and more road accidents occur then than during the day. We explain why night vision is a problem for so many of us and offer tips on improving our vision and safety when driving at night.
What are the symptoms of poor night vision?
Common problems include difficulty focusing, blurred vision, dazzle and glare. Low light levels at night cause the pupil of the eye to become larger and this can accentuate any focusing errors – no matter how minor – causing blur. Bright oncoming headlights and reflections around light sources in general can cause distraction and discomfort.
Who is most affected?
From around the age of 45 most of us will need some level of vision correction, so it is important that everyone has their eyes tested every two years. Eyesight can change without it being immediately obvious and it’s often at this time of year when the drive to or from work becomes a drive in the dark that people notice some deterioration.
So at night it’s more important than ever to wear a pair of spectacles or contact lenses with an up-to-date prescription and it’s sensible to keep a spare pair in your car.
Keep things clean and clear! Here are some practical tips for taking the strain out of night driving:
1. Windscreens - a dirty windscreen, inside or out can increase halos and reflections around lights and headlamps, so keep them clean and repair any damage promptly (for the sake of general safety as well as your sight).
2. Spectacle lenses - the same goes for dirty or scratched spectacle lenses. Also, reflections from the surface of spectacle lenses can sometimes cause multiple images of lights at night. If you notice these, ask your optometrist about anti-reflective lens coatings.
3. Wiper blades – replace them if they are worn out or no longer capable of clearing your windscreen effectively.
4. Headlights – keep the lamp covers clean, especially in the winter these soon get covered in dirt and traffic film, effectively dimming them and regularly check they are in full working order, to be both safe and legal.
5. Tinted glass – never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving. Strongly tinted windscreens are bad too, by law windscreens should not have a tint density of more than 15 per cent.
If in doubt – get checked out!
If you continue having trouble adjusting to glare from headlights and tail lights or seeing road signs, road markings, kerbs and other roadside features, make an appointment to see your optometrist. It is important to check whether this is because of a specific condition and get advice on treatment options.