Eyesight and Night Driving

December 28, 2020

As much as we might want to avoid it, we tend to end up driving at night more often in winter.

The days get shorter and the nights get longer, and driving in these winter months can be especially stressful for those of us with weak night vision. What can we do to make sure that we continue to drive safely?

The Difficulties of Night Driving

The same road can look completely different at night than it does in the middle of the day. There’s the glare of headlights in the opposite lane and obstacles and curves become harder to spot. Nocturnal animals are also going to be more active and thus more prone to unwittingly entering the road in front of us. Some of us are confident in our ability to adjust to the challenge of night driving, but we should all be taking an extra measure of caution to reduce the risk of accidents.

As We Age, Night Driving Gets Harder

For most of us, driving at night will become more difficult the older we get, and that’s because our night vision tends to become worse as we age. This happens as we gradually lose some of the specialized cells that distinguish between light and dark in our retinas. The lenses of our eyes also grow stiffer and cloudier over time, making focusing harder and glare more distracting. On the whole, it’s not a good recipe for safe night driving.

Is Your Eyesight Changing?

Keep careful watch for symptoms that your eyesight is changing with age in ways that might make night driving more dangerous: blurry, dim, or cloudy vision, halo effects around lights, increased glare, and eye fatigue. Schedule an eye appointment if you notice symptoms like these. You might simply need a stronger glasses prescription, or it could be time to think about cataract surgery. It also might be time to start avoiding driving at night.

Tips for Safer Night Driving

For drivers with mild to moderate difficulties with night driving, there are a few aids and solutions that can help, including getting plenty of sleep, eating eye-healthy foods (such as spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes), and wearing prescription night driving glasses. Also make sure the headlights aren’t fogged over and the windows and windshield are clean.

The hard reality is that at a certain point, driving at night simply may not be safe anymore, even if you’re doing everything right. We encourage any patient with serious night vision problems not to risk their safety or that of others on the road and limit their driving to daytime hours.

How Can We Help?

If you’ve recently begun struggling more with driving at night, now is the perfect time to schedule an eye exam. We can determine the cause of your difficulties and recommend the next steps to take. Make sure to come ready with any questions you have!

Whether you’re driving in daylight or at night, please drive safe!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.