How can glare impact your eyesight while driving?

Glare can come from all sorts of sources, from low sunlight in the spring, to the reflection of bright light on wet roads, reflections off windows and even from objects in your car that catch the light. All of these can cause our pupils to try to rapidly constrict (get smaller) to adapt to the light source, which is what produces the temporary blindness associated with glare. The danger comes in those moments when you can’t see or when one part of the road is thrown into dark shadows while the rest is flooded in light. What’s more, even if you aren’t affected by the glare, other drivers might be more susceptible to it, so it’s always important to keep the possibility of glare in mind whilst driving — whether it’s day or night. 

Glare while driving at night

At night, our pupils are already dilated to adapt to low light. This means our eyes have to work harder to constrict the pupils when faced with bright headlights and street lighting. Problems with glare can also worsen with age as our ability to adapt to light and dark situations slows down. If you feel you are especially sensitive to glare, it is worth mentioning this to your optometrist, as it might also be a sign of cataracts and macular degeneration. Fortunately, if glare is impacting your ability to drive safely, then there are specific anti-glare driving lenses you can get for your glasses, as well as some lens treatments for glasses that can help.

Age 40-55? Presbyopia and driving

If you’re an adult aged around 40-55, you might find it more difficult to see while driving as a result of presbyopia — a common condition that develops as your eyes age. This could mean that your eyes find it more difficult to adjust to different distances while on the road, or have trouble seeing while driving at night. 

If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, it’s worth booking an appointment with an optician to have a closer look at your eyes.

What type of glasses are best for driving?

It is so important that you have your eyes test regularly (at least every two years) so that your vision is the best it can be when you’re on the roads. This means if you’re long-sighted, short-sighted or a bit of both, your glasses will have the right prescription to maintain your vision and keep you and other road-users safe. 

Here are some of the lens and lens treatment options that we offer:

SuperDrive varifocal lenses

If you already wear varifocals or use two pairs of glasses, one for distance and one for close up, then our SuperDrive varifocal lenses could help. SuperDrive is a varifocal lens tailored for driving. It features a 180-degree distance vision area and a wide, upper intermediate area for road and wing mirror use, with minimum head movement. SuperDrive includes a UltraClear SuperClean Smart treatment, designed to help reduce reflections and dazzle typically caused by the wavelengths of light emitted from headlights and street lighting.

See our varifocal lens options

UltraClear SuperClean treatment

Single-vision and varifocal wearers may also benefit from UltraClear SuperClean our anti-reflection and scratch-resistant treatment, with the added benefits of being water-repellent, smudge-resistant and anti-static. This means that lenses have less reflections, attract less dust, stay cleaner for longer and are easier to clean which helps give clarity while driving day or night.

Tinted or reaction lenses 

If glare is a problem an optometrist can prescribe lenses to help. Tinted lenses or our Reactions photochromic lenses — which react by darkening when the light is bright — may be helpful. Although, if you need glasses for driving, bear in mind that photochromic lenses will not darken effectively inside modern cars as their windscreens contain a filter which blocks ultraviolet (UV) light. It is the UV in sunlight that makes photochromic lenses darken.

Polarised lenses

Polarised lenses are a good option for driving in daylight as they eliminate glare from horizontal surfaces such as roads, water and snow. They also offer 100% UV protection, improve contrast and help ease the strain on your eyes so they are particularly good for driving in bright conditions.

See our lens extras and treatments

Do anti-glare glasses help night driving?

Yes, if glare from headlights and street lighting is an issue then anti-glare glasses will help you when driving at night.

In years gone by people would use yellow-tinted glasses to reduce glare and help them drive at night. While yellow tints might have helped reduce glare, they also made darker areas of the road even less visible. The important thing to remember is to not use tinted glasses at night as this can actually make your vision worse.

To discover more about anti-glare glasses, explore our SuperDrive product page or book an appointment to speak to an optician. Alternatively, if you or a loved one is concerned about poor vision while driving and would like more information on how to manage this, visit our dedicated resource.