Eye Health Central

Night Driving with Contact Lenses

What Are The Best Contact Lenses For Night Driving?

Night Driving Vision

A lot of people have trouble seeing when driving at night, even those who normally have excellent vision during the day time. There are many visual obstacles to contend with, and any one of them can make it very hard to see the road ahead of you, and the other cars that are on it. For people that wear corrective lenses, further complications in the form of glare and blurred vision can also be a problem. The good news is there are ways to minimize these issues and make night time driving less difficult.

Whether or not you wear corrective lenses, like glasses or contacts, one of the most important things to consider for safe night driving is your windshield. Keeping it clean and free of streaks is an excellent way of reducing glare from oncoming headlights, streetlights, and lit roadside signs. Not only should your windshield be super clean, but your windshield wipers should be fully functional and clear all water off of the glass. If they don't, consider replacing the blades with new ones that do a better job.

Pupil adjustment

One of the bigger problems with night time driving is having to adjust from darkness to bright lights, and then back again. Human eyes adjust to let in more or less light, depending on the light's intensity. In dark environments, the pupil opens up wide to allow in as much light as possible. In bright environments, it tightens up into a tiny opening, protecting the retina. When the headlights from oncoming traffic hit your eye, your pupils close up quickly. But after the car passes, it may take some time for them to open up again, leaving you with poor night vision until they readjust.

Night Driving Glare

To avoid this, try to avoid looking directly at any light source ahead of you in order to preserve your night vision. The best place to look when traffic approaches is down toward the side of the road, using your peripheral vision to track any cars near you.

Bear in mind that your eye's ability to adjust to dim or bright environments slows with age. As you get older, the time needed to see clearly in the dark will increase, and the minimum amount of light needed to see clearly with rise. There's not much that can be done to increase low light vision, but being aware of your limitations is important. It's dangerous to be behind the wheel in the dark if you're not able to see clearly.

Dry Eyes

if you get dry eyes, this can be worse with air from the car's air conditioning. This can cause irritation, deposits on the lens surface and discomfort. In this situation, you will need to make sure that the vents in the car are directed away from your face and wear contact lenses that are suitable for dry eyes.

Monovision or Multifocal Contact Lenses

If you wear monovision or multifocal contact lenses you may find that your distance vision, especially at dusk is compromised. You may need to consider wearing glasses for driving at night, or swapping to a pair of distance only contact lenses, to give you the best vision.

Is your prescription up to date?

Any one that wears glasses or contacts should make sure that their prescription is up to date. After a few years, your eyes can change, and the power required to correct your vision may need to be adjusted. Driving with corrective lenses that aren't the right power is unsafe.

Tint may reduce glare

Some people find that wearing glasses with a slight amber or yellow tint can be helpful with reducing glare at night, but they won't eliminate the problem entirely. Even so, every little advantage you can find will help.

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses

There are no contact lenses designed specifically with night driving in mind. The best option would be to use the contact lenses that provide the clearest, sharpest vision possible. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses can sometimes beat soft contact lenses in that regard, but some people find them to be less comfortable, and harder to get used to.

Some people also complain of 'glare' when looking at lights when driving at night wearing RGP lenses. This is because these lenses are smaller than soft lenses, and so, when your pupil expands at night, the fitting portion of the lens can then interfere with your vision, causing glare or flare. In addition RGP lenses can grease up, which will be similar to looking through a dirty windscreen.

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 8 Sep 2016, Last modified: 28 Mar 2020