Night Driving Glasses May Hurt, Not Help

Auto Cleaning and Maintenance May Improve Drivers' Vision at Night

If you search the internet for help with night driving, you'll probably get numerous links to specialized night vision glasses, ranging in price from around $10 to near $100. Most have a tinted yellowish hue, and are marketed to reduce glare from headlights, streetlights and neon signs.

But do night driving glasses work? Ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, MD, isn't so certain. He discusses his doubts in this ABC news segment.

What concerns Dr. Iwach is that the tinted or polarized lenses used on so-called night vision glasses are designed to limit or reduce the amount of light getting to the eye. Anything that does this at night will actually make it harder to see, not easier, according to Dr. Iwach.

Darkened or polarized lenses can be helpful in blocking glare in daytime driving or during outdoor activities like fishing, skiing or riding a bike. But when driving at night, the eyes need to adapt to darker natural conditions along with varied, fast-changing light, nearby and far away.

"You have to be careful about limiting the amount of light in variable low-light conditions," Dr. Iwach said.

What Can You Do If You're Having Trouble Seeing at Night?

Check on these basics to improve how well you can see while driving at night:

  • Keep your car's windshield clean, inside and outside. People often forget the importance of wiping off the inside of the windshield, which is easily smudged.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and change them as needed.
  • Clean off your headlights, which can get coated with road grime.
  • If you wear glasses, keep them clean. Have the prescription checked regularly so you can update your glasses or contacts when required.

"In my experience taking these steps will address and correct most night vision concerns," Dr. Iwach said. And he has one more important recommendation for people who feel their night vision is changing: See an ophthalmologist for a check-up.

Trouble seeing at night is a health issue for some people, with many possible causes including conditions and diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma or dry eye. Ophthalmologists are the best-trained medical providers to accurately diagnose and treat night vision problems. Even when impaired night vision is caused by a condition or disease, it may improve with the appropriate treatment.

Getting checked out for declining night vision could lead to the diagnosis of a serious eye condition, prompting treatment.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regularĀ eye exams by an ophthalmologist starting at age 40.

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