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What To Know About Night Driving Glasses

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 27, 2021

Night driving glasses are special glasses that may help you to see better at night while you’re driving. They’re usually yellow-tinted and don’t need a prescription. They often have an anti-reflective coating. Some night driving glasses are also polarized.

Many people have reduced vision in low light, especially older people. You may need twice as much light at the age of 50 to see as well as you did when you were 30. As you get older, other diseases like cataracts can also make it harder to see at night.

Conditions That Make It Harder to See at Night

There are many conditions that make it hard to see well at night. These conditions can affect your driving.

Nyctalopia. Another name for this condition is night blindness. If you have this condition, you’re not fully blind at night, but you may have a harder time seeing when there is less light. Nyctalopia is sometimes a sign of a different medical condition.

Myopia. This is also known as nearsightedness. It means you have trouble seeing things that are far away. It might also be harder to see in low-light conditions. A variation of myopia is referred to as night myopia. This type of nearsightedness occurs only at night.

Glaucoma.Glaucoma reduces peripheral vision and can make it harder to see at night. Glaucoma occurs when fluid builds up in the eye and damages the optic nerve.

Cataracts. Cataracts cause the lens of your eye to be cloudy, making it harder to see. This condition affects your vision both during the day and at night.

Deficiency of Vitamin A. Lack of this important nutrient can cause blindness. Foods that are high in vitamin A include:

  • Pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy greens
  • Eggs

In its early stages of vitamin A deficiency, you might notice that you have difficulty seeing at night and in low light. If your doctor diagnoses this deficiency soon enough, your symptoms can be reversed.

Retinitis pigmentosa. This genetic disorder is rare. It reduces night vision and peripheral vision because it causes the cells in the retina to degrade. These cells are sensitive to light and help you to see at night.

Can Night Driving Glasses Help?

Some experts believe that night driving glasses may hinder your ability to see at night while driving. The yellow lenses actually make less light reach your eye, making it harder to see.

They are actually better for helping you see during the day. They filter out blue light, creating greater contrast in daylight conditions. These glasses were originally created for hunters. They allow hunters to see birds against the sky more easily during the day.

One study from 2019 showed that people wearing night driving glasses had a harder time seeing pedestrians in their path than people who were not wearing night driving glasses. Those wearing the night driving glasses sometimes took up to 1.5 seconds longer to see pedestrians while driving.

How to See Better at Night

Although night driving glasses may actually hinder your ability to see in low-light conditions, there are several things you can do to see better at night, including:

  • Clean your windshield. Dirt and dust can make it harder to see. Don't forget to clean the inside too.
  • Clean your headlights. Dirt covering your headlights can make them appear dimmer.
  • Maintain your windshield wipers. Replace them at regular intervals and keep them clean.
  • Clean your glasses. Use a microfiber cleaning cloth to make sure your glasses are clear and easy to see through.
  • Dim the dashboard lights. This reduces eye strain and helps you see better at night.
  • Visit your eye doctor often. Keep your glasses or contacts prescription up-to-date, and visit your eye doctor when you have a concern, or at their recommended interval.
  • Use an anti-reflective coating on your glasses. If you wear glasses already, you can get an anti-reflective coating to help you see better at night. The coating reduces glare from lights at night.

When driving at night, you have less time to react to objects in your path. Headlights and high beams can help, but the distance you can see is significantly reduced compared with the daytime. Other ways to stay safe while driving at night include:

  • Driving only when you are well-rested
  • Paying extra care when driving in rush hour traffic in the evening
  • Don't drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Drive slower at night

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology: "What Is Glaucoma?" "What Are Cataracts?" "What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?" "Night Driving Glasses May Hurt, Not Help."

American Optometric Association: "Myopia (nearsightedness)."

Cleveland Clinic: "Night Blindness (Nyctalopia)."

Glaucoma Research Foundation: "Glaucoma and Driving Ability."

JAMA Ophthalmology: "Comparison of Pedestrian Detection With and Without Yellow-Lens Glasses During Simulated Night Driving With and Without Headlight Glare."

Mayo Clinic: "Eye exam."

NIH National Eye Institute: "Retinitis Pigmentosa."

National Safety Council: "The Most Dangerous Time to Drive."

VisionCenter: "What are Night Driving Glasses?"

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