The inability to see properly at night or in low light conditions affects everyone to some extent. This can be particularly noticeable while driving in the winter season with short days and long evening hours. Poor weather conditions, as well as bright oncoming car headlights, can add to the problem and make night driving dangerous. Eye care experts also point to your eye's health as a potential culprit. Some of the signs and symptoms of night driving problems include difficulty to see road signs at night, or severe glares and halos coming off any lights.
There are several things that you can do to minimize difficulties driving at night. Some methods work better for some than others. But to keep your vision at its best, eye care professionals recommend you take at least some of these precautions to help your vision at night:
Dim Your Instrument Panel and Dash Lights
Some people enjoy driving around with brightly lit instrument and display panels. Unfortunately, what they do not realize is that if you're driving with bright dash lights, those lights could be distracting and compromising your vision. Some rally car drivers take extra time to cover their dashboards with black felt in the nighttime to avoid stray reflections. Although you shouldn't cover your dashboard in normal circumstances, it is good for your eyes, and overall eye care, when you keep your instrument panel dimmed.
Another good practice is to keep your interior and map lights off as well. Most interior lights disperse light all over the inside the vehicle and cause you to lose focus on what’s going on outside. They can also shine into the driver's eyes, causing temporary blindness until your eyes re-adjust. Still, as good as your map lights may be, it's best to avoid driving with them on. If you need to turn them on to look for something, it may be a good idea to pull over to look, rather than risk turning on the light while driving.
Always wear your prescription eyewear when driving
If you have prescription eyewear, you should not be driving without your glasses. Most US States have vision requirements for driving, and you could be cited if you have a requirement to wear eye glasses while driving and are not. When you do wear them, be sure that your glasses are clean. You can wipe down your lenses with a clean microfiber cloth to keep them dirt and dust free.
Even if you do not normally wear prescription lenses, you can ask your optometrist to recommend specialized no-glare or polarized lenses if you drive frequently at night. Unlike sunglasses, these lenses allow more light to enter the eye. The helps to minimize the glare coming from the road or from other objects nearby.
Take breaks when driving long distances to reduce eye strain and fatigue.
If you are driving for long distances, consider taking breaks from driving to rest your eyes. Driving puts a large strain on your eyes, especially at night. Eye care experts recommend taking breaks from driving for at least 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to minimize eye strain. If you are driving with another person, consider switching driving every 3 hours so your eyes can rest while the other drives.
Keep headlights, and the windshield clean
Whether driving in the day or nighttime, dirty lights and windshields obscure light and make it difficult to see clearly. Taking the time to clean them properly, especially just after inclement weather, can improve the amount of light you see at night. When you clean your windshield, make sure to clean both the inside and outside of the glass. You can also purchase special cleaning solutions to help. These fluids not only take away the dirt and grime from your windshield and headlights, but also protect them from accumulating new dirt and grime.
Eat Right for Better Eye Care
A lack of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients could contribute to poor night vision. Vitamin A has been especially linked to vision and eye care. To make sure your eyes are as healthy as they can be, eating properly is a great step in the right direction. Foods rich in Vitamin A, such as leafy greens, cantaloupes, and sweet potatoes, will help keep your eyes in top condition.
Keep Your Eyes Healthy With Regular Checkups
To keep your eyes in the best possible shape, you should visit your eye care professional at least once every year for a regular wellness exam and to discuss any problems you may be having at night while driving. This way, your doctor can recommend the best possible solution to fit your needs. With regular checkups from eye care professionals like us here at Hoff Optometry in Venice, CA, your eyes will be ready for any driving conditions you happen to be in.