When it comes to road safety, having optimal vision is very important. Whether you're a seasoned driver or a new license holder, wearing the right eyewear can significantly improve your driving experience, especially during challenging conditions such as glare, night driving, and managing specific vision conditions.
Anti-glare driving glasses: Can they improve my road safety?
How can glare impact your eyesight while driving?
Glare can come from all sorts of sources, from low sunlight in the spring, to the reflection of bright light on wet roads, reflections off windows and even from objects in your car that catch the light. All of these can cause our pupils to try to rapidly constrict (get smaller) to adapt to the light source, which is what produces the temporary blindness associated with glare. The danger comes in those moments when you can’t see or when one part of the road is thrown into dark shadows while the rest is flooded in light. What’s more, even if you aren’t affected by the glare, other drivers might be more susceptible to it, so it’s always important to keep the possibility of glare in mind whilst driving — whether it’s day or night.
Glare while driving at night
At night, our pupils are already dilated to adapt to low light. This means our eyes have to work harder to constrict the pupils when faced with bright headlights and street lighting. Problems with glare can also worsen with age as our ability to adapt to light and dark situations slows down. If you feel you are especially sensitive to glare, it is worth mentioning this to your optometrist, as it might also be a sign of cataracts and macular degeneration. Fortunately, if glare is impacting your ability to drive safely, then there are specific anti-glare driving lenses you can get for your glasses, as well as some lens treatments for glasses that can help.
Age 40-55? Presbyopia and driving
If you’re an adult aged around 40-55, you might find it more difficult to see while driving as a result of presbyopia — a common condition that develops as your eyes age. This could mean that your eyes find it more difficult to adjust to different distances while on the road, or have trouble seeing while driving at night.
If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, it’s worth booking an appointment with an optician to have a closer look at your eyes.
Driving glasses: what are my options?
It is so important that you have your eyes test regularly (at least every two years) so that your vision is the best it can be when you’re on the roads. This means if you’re long-sighted, short-sighted or a bit of both, your glasses will have the right prescription to maintain your vision and keep you and other road-users safe.
Here are some of the lens and lens treatment options that we offer:
SuperDrive varifocal lenses
If you already wear varifocals or use two pairs of glasses, one for distance and one for close up, then our SuperDrive varifocal lenses could help. SuperDrive is a varifocal lens tailored for driving. It features a 180-degree distance vision area and a wide, upper intermediate area for road and wing mirror use, with minimum head movement. SuperDrive includes a UltraClear SuperClean Smart treatment, designed to help reduce reflections and dazzle typically caused by the wavelengths of light emitted from headlights and street lighting.
UltraClear SuperClean treatment
Single-vision and varifocal wearers may also benefit from UltraClear SuperClean our anti-reflection and scratch-resistant treatment, with the added benefits of being water-repellent, smudge-resistant and anti-static. This means that lenses have less reflections, attract less dust, stay cleaner for longer and are easier to clean which helps give clarity while driving day or night.
Tinted or reaction lenses
If glare is a problem an optometrist can prescribe lenses to help. Tinted lenses or our Reactions photochromic lenses — which react by darkening when the light is bright — may be helpful. Although, if you need glasses for driving, bear in mind that photochromic lenses will not darken effectively inside modern cars as their windscreens contain a filter which blocks ultraviolet (UV) light. It is the UV in sunlight that makes photochromic lenses darken. Because of this, tinted lenses are suitable for driving in daylight and the tint recommended for bright sunny days is a relatively dark sunglass tint. For driving at night, however, we do not recommend tinted lenses.
Polarised lenses are a good option for driving in daylight as they eliminate glare from horizontal surfaces such as roads, water and snow. They also offer 100% UV protection, improve contrast and help ease the strain on your eyes so they are particularly good for driving in bright conditions.
Do anti-glare glasses help night driving?
Yes, if glare from headlights and street lighting is an issue then anti-glare glasses will help you when driving at night.
In years gone by people would use yellow-tinted glasses to reduce glare and help them drive at night. While yellow tints might have helped reduce glare, they also made darker areas of the road even less visible. The important thing to remember is to not use tinted glasses at night as this can actually make your vision worse.
To discover more about anti-glare glasses, explore our SuperDrive product page or book an appointment to speak to an optician. Alternatively, if you or a loved one is concerned about poor vision while driving and would like more information on how to manage this, visit our dedicated resource.
Driving at night with astigmatism
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that causes blurry vision. While corrective measures such as contact lenses and glasses are effective, many people with astigmatism still run into difficulties when performing certain tasks - driving at night being one of them.
To help you understand this link a little better, we’ll take a closer look at how astigmatism can impact your driving vision at night, and what you can do to improve it.
Does astigmatism affect night driving?
Driving at night is difficult enough for those with perfect vision — but for people with astigmatism, it can be even more difficult. In low-light conditions, the blurry vision associated with astigmatism can become worse. That’s because when the lighting dims, your pupil dilates to let in more light. As the pupil dilates, more peripheral light rays enter the eye, which can cause drivers to experience even more blurry vision, as well as halos around bright lights and even night blindness.
Furthermore, bright headlights from oncoming and rear traffic can become particularly distorted, creating what appears like ‘lines’ of light around the headlight. Light reflections from cars and street lamps can also cause drivers with astigmatism to squint, making it more difficult to concentrate on the road ahead.
How can I improve my vision at night?
Once your optometrist has tested your eyes and determined the right prescription glasses or contact lenses for you, you’ll find driving much easier because light will be focussing properly on your retina and this should therefore improve your vision.
Many people choose to wear contact lenses to correct astigmatism while driving as this eliminates extra light reflection. Mild astigmatism can be corrected by an ordinary gas-permeable lens while others with higher amounts of astigmatism might benefit from special 'toric' soft lenses to fit your eye shape.
Long distance glasses for driving
Nearsighted and short sighted are both terms for myopia, a very common cause of blurry vision. Being short-sighted means that you can see things clearly close-up, but things in the distance are out of focus. This means tasks such as driving may be tricky.
Many short-sighted people will need to wear long distance glasses when they’re driving in order to keep themselves, and those around them, safe on the roads. It’s important to be able to clearly read road signs and look out for hazards as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
How will you know if you need to wear glasses for driving?
Your optician will have told you that you’re short-sighted after an eye test. They’ll be able to assess the extent of your myopia and would tell you if you need to wear glasses for driving.
When you start learning to drive, your instructor will have made sure that you can carry out the eyesight requirements. You’ll also have to do this before you take your test.
What does the DVLA say?
To drive a car safely, you must be able to read a car numberplate (made after 1 September 2001) from 20 metres, whether that’s with or without glasses or contact lenses. You also need to have an adequate field of vision. Your optician will be able to determine both of these things during an eye test and will let you know if you need glasses for driving, or if there is any reason why you might not be safe to drive.
Learn more about eye tests for driving and what happens during a test here.
Most short-sighted people will wear this type of lens to start with. As the name suggests, it means that there is just one prescription that covers the whole lens to correct your vision.
You’re more likely to wear bifocals if you’re over the age of 40, when natural changes to the eye mean that you need some help with your close-up vision as well as distance. Bifocals have two different lens strengths in them: one for close-up and one for far away.
When you need help with close-up vision and as well as distance, varifocals could help. Varifocal lenses work by changing power from the top to the bottom of the lens. Moving your eyes up and down the lens will give you clear vision for distance, near and in between. So you'll be able to see the road ahead of you, as well as the speedometer.
Find out if you need driving glasses today
It’s important that you see your optometrist regularly (once every two years) so they can make sure you’re seeing clearly and that your eyes are happy and healthy. If it’s been a while since you last had one, or you think your vision has changed, you can book an appointment with one of our experts.