Night Driving Glasses

Night Driving GlassesI've had a couple of regular correspondents ask me recently about night driving glasses. These glasses have yellow lenses and are supposed to cut glare and increase contrast allowing you to see better in the darkness. After a bit of research, it appears that using these glasses is not a good idea.

"Yellow night driving lenses have been shown to provide no benefit in seeing ability at night (Richards 1964). They are even hazardous, because they give the driver a feeling of seeing better, which no one has yet been able to explain (Septon, 1968).

"Studies have shown that they actually impair visual performance and retard glare recovery." This quote is taken from the book Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety by Merrill J. Allen, O.D., Ph.D. and others.

I contacted the Canadian Association of Optometrists and asked about these glasses. The response was that wearing anything that cut down on the amount entering your eyes while driving at night was a bad thing to do. These glasses do that, without causing the reduction in speed needed to compensate for reduced vision.

Finally, older drivers are at particular risk if they chose to use yellow lenses at night. Their pupils do not dilate as well under low light conditions so their eyes cannot compensate as well for the loss of light, increasing the risk.

For optimum night driving vision use an up-to-date and clean pair of clear prescription eyeglasses with an anti-reflective coating, clean your windshield inside and outside and make sure your headlights are clean and properly aimed.

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I can see clearly, now

Undoubtedly, any glasses that reduce the amount of light getting to your eyes are going to impair your vision at night.

But it should be recognized that they can indeed enhance contrast in overcast or foggy conditions; photographers using black + white film have used yellow filters for this purpose for years, and many skiers and marksmen will take advantage of goggles or glasses with this type of lens also.


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