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.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common vision condition that affects the cornea and the lens — the clear front cover of the eye. To ensure that we can see clearly, the curvature of the cornea and lens needs to be more like a football so that the light is aimed perfectly onto the retina. People with astigmatism have an unevenly curved cornea or an unevenly curved lens inside their eye. This prevents light from focusing properly on the retina — the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurry — particularly at any distance.  

Astigmatism is usually something you’re born with, although it frequently occurs alongside other vision conditions like myopia (nearsightedness). It can also develop later on in life due to age-related changes in your eye or due to surgery, an eye injury or condition.  

Signs and symptoms

In more developed cases, or without treatment, symptoms could also include: 

  • Headaches 
  • Having to squint to see clearly 
  • Eye strain or tiredness when focusing on prolonged tasks - like when you’re reading a book or a computer screen 

Read more about astigmatism

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. 

Lenses for driving

If you wear glasses for driving, anti-reflection treatments like UltraClear SuperClean can help reduce reflections which can be distracting. For varifocal wearers the SuperDrive lens is tailored for driving, featuring a 180-degree distance vision area and a wide upper intermediate area for road and wing mirror use, with minimum head movement.  

Unlike yellow tinted driving glasses, that were previously used to address issues with bright lights and glare, our SuperDrive varifocal lens appears clear, and contains an UltraClear SuperClean Smart anti-reflection treatment. This treatment is designed to help reduce reflections and dazzle caused by headlights and street lighting. Not only will this treatment help to minimise reflections, but it will also help to keep your glasses cleaner and scratch-free.  

Contact lenses

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. 

Want to find out more? Head to our SuperDrive product page, where you can read more information on vision and driving.