Driving at dusk or at night can be stressful for many people. The lowered amount of light coming into the eye, coupled with the glare of oncoming traffic, can make it hard to see. And impaired vision can diminish your safety and the safety of others on the road.

To address this issue, many manufacturers market and sell night driving glasses. But, do they work?

In this article, we’ll look at what the research has to say, plus examine alternatives for improving your night driving vision.

Night driving glasses have nonprescription, yellow-tinted lenses that range in shade from light yellow to amber. Some night driving glasses also have an antireflective coating.

Night driving glasses reduce glare by scattering and filtering out blue light. Blue light is the part of the light spectrum that has the shortest wavelength and the largest amount of energy. Unlike types of light with longer wavelengths, blue light is more likely to cause glare when it enters the eye.

Night driving glasses have been manufactured for several decades. These yellow-tinted glasses were originally marketed to hunters as shooting glasses. They continue to be popular with hunters because they sharpen the contrast of flying birds against the sky during overcast or cloudy conditions.

Yellow lenses reduce the amount of light coming into the eye, diminishing visibility. At night, this can be detrimental, rather than helpful.

Night driving glasses are available in many shades of yellow and amber. The darkest lenses filter out the most glare but also, the largest amount of light, making it hard to see in dim or dark conditions.

Some wearers of night driving glasses report that they’re better able to see at night while wearing them. However, visual tests indicate that night driving glasses do not improve night vision, and do not help drivers see pedestrians any faster than they would without them.

In fact, a small 2019 study showed that night driving glasses actually slow down visual reflexes by a fraction of a second, making night vision slightly worse.

Does it help to wear sunglasses at night?

Like night driving glasses, sunglasses, including those with mirrored lenses, reduce the amount of light coming into the eye. This makes them inappropriate, and potentially dangerous, to wear while driving at night.

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Anything that reduces blurriness or glare will help with night driving vision. Things to try include:

  • Keep your eyeglass prescription up to date by getting regular checkups.
  • Ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist about getting an antireflective coating on your prescription eyeglasses.
  • Smudges can amplify glare, so wipe your eyeglasses down with an eyeglass cloth before driving.
  • Make sure your windshield is clean both inside and out, since dirt streaks and dust can amplify glare.
  • Replace your windshield wipers regularly.
  • Keep dashboard lights dim, to avoid eye strain while night driving.
  • Keep your headlights clean and free of grime.
  • See an eye doctor if your vision changes or seems to deteriorate at night.

Impaired vision at night is sometimes referred to as night blindness, or nyctalopia.

If you have night blindness it doesn’t mean you can’t see at all at night. It means you have trouble driving or seeing in dark or dim lighting.

Night blindness also makes it hard for the eyes to transition from bright light to dim, which is why driving at night in oncoming traffic is challenging.

Causes of night blindness

Night blindness has several causes, including aging. Changes in the eye that can start as early as age 40 may make it harder to see at night. These include:

  • weakening of the muscles in the iris
  • diminishment in pupil size
  • cataracts

Several other eye conditions can also cause night vision to occur or worsen. They include:

Having a severe deficiency of vitamin A can cause night blindness, but this is most likely to occur in people who are malnourished.

Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, may also affect the eyes, causing decreased night vision.

Many underlying health conditions as well as conditions of the eye can be treated, eliminating or reducing night blindness.

If you’re experiencing trouble driving at night, see your doctor. They may be able to help you recapture lost night vision, enhancing your mobility and keeping you and others safer on the road.

A doctor, such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist, will take a detailed medical history that will uncover information about symptoms or conditions that may be at fault. They’ll also examine your eyes to diagnose potential causes of night blindness.

Some conditions such as cataracts can be easily rectified, restoring vision significantly.

Many people experience a condition called night blindness, which can make it hard to drive at night. Night driving glasses are supposed to help alleviate this condition. However, research indicates that night driving glasses are not usually effective.

If you’re experiencing trouble driving at night, make sure all of the reflective surfaces in your car are clean and free of grime.

You should also see an eye doctor to determine the cause of the problem. Many causes of night blindness can be easily corrected, making you and others safer on the road.