So, it may not be something you can stop, but road glare at night isn’t something you should ignore. It’s happened to all of us – those few seconds ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic – when light from oncoming cars or roadside signs blinds us.
We talked with an eyecare expert to find out how to reduce the safety hazard nighttime road glare can pose.
“There’s no question that the glare from passing automobiles and other light sources poses a significant threat for many nighttime drivers,” says VSP network doctor Stephen Cohen, O.D. “Dealing effectively with glare at night isn’t just a matter of comfort. It’s a matter of personal safety, and there’s a lot of research available to show that highway glare can cause life-threatening accidents.
“For that reason, all of us should take the steps required to protect ourselves from this hazard.”
Whether your nighttime bright lights are in a big city or country roadside, there are things you can do about it. Here’s a rundown of Dr. Cohen’s safety recommendations:
- Always, always make sure you get a complete eye exam each and every year. And, when you do, talk to your doctor about overall vision issues, with nighttime glare especially in mind. Some eye conditions, like cataracts and being nearsighted, are more sensitive to glare. You’ll want to know if any vision problems you have could increase the impact nighttime lights could have on you – so you’re better prepared to handle driving in the dark.
- Be pro anti-reflective. When you opt for new glasses or lenses, choose anti-reflective coating, which may be covered by your eyecare plan or at least offered at a discount. The coating dramatically cuts down glare. In fact, says the Scottsdale, Ariz. doctor, “Today’s high-tech coatings can reduce glare 40- or 50-fold. And, you can easily obtain these low-glare lenses even if you don’t normally wear prescription glasses.”
- Respect your eyes. Don’t forget the work your eyes have done all day. Whether sitting in front of a computer, reading or doing other close-up work, your eyes have put in a full day already and may be tired. Eye fatigue and strain add to road glare vulnerability. Says Dr. Cohen, “If you know your eyes are tired, be sure to drive extra carefully after dark.”
- Aim low. When driving at night and facing oncoming lights, make a habit of focusing more on the right, lower side of the roadway, not the centerline. This will help reduce the glare in your gaze.
- Question herbal claims. Popular herbal remedies, like bilberry extract, promise to improve night vision – but don’t put all your hopes on them. “Right now, we don’t have enough evidence to know for certain whether bilberry and other dietary supplements can significantly improve night vision,” says Dr. Cohen.
“The best protection from glare is to have your eyes examined annually and to arm yourself with anti-reflective glasses when appropriate.”