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Night Vision

By: Heather Marshall - Updated: 27 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Halo Effect reflection anti-reflective

Everyone should take extra care when driving at night because no matter how good your vision is, it will be more difficult to see. In most areas there are good levels of street lighting and our eyes do adapt naturally to help us see better at night time. Some people with eye problems may notice their sight becomes worse at night. Others may only find they have a problem with their sight when it is dark. This condition is often referred to as night myopia.

Night Myopia

Night myopia is a form of short sightedness and generally affects people under the age of 45. Someone with night myopia will be able to see things close up but not those in the distance. Objects in the distance will appear blurred. Young people with normal eye sight may find that in the dark, when there are low levels of light, their sight becomes blurred and they cannot focus on things that are close up. This occurs because in normal situations the eyes can change focus between short and long distances easily but when there is not much light, the system breaks down. The eyes are only able to focus on things in the distance at about one metre away.

Treatment for Night Myopia

It is not possible to prescribe special glasses or contact lenses for this condition. In most cases there is enough light when driving from street lighting and car headlamps for the eyes to work sufficiently. This is the case even in rural areas when there may be no street lighting. You should check with your optician that your vision meets the correct requirement for driving.

Blurred Vision

Another problem which may affect some people at night time is blurred vision. When there are low levels of light, the pupil becomes larger and this can accentuate any problems with focussing which causes blurring. If you do notice that your sight becomes slightly blurry in the dark, you may need to change your glasses or contact lenses to a higher prescription. You should visit your optician for advice.

Haloes and Reflections

Some people notice that they can see a halo effect or reflections around bright lights. This is more likely to happen when driving and the effects occur when looking at headlights. This does not necessarily mean there is a problem with your eyes but it is more likely a result of a dirty windscreen or glasses. The light scatters on a dirty surface which causes the halo effect or reflections. Condensation can also cause the light to reflect. It is important to clean your windscreen on the outside and on the inside to remove any dirt. Also make sure that your glasses are not dirty or scratched. There are anti-reflection lenses available which will reduce the likelihood of any halo effect or reflection and might be helpful if you drive a lot at night.

Not only is it dangerous to wear tinted glasses or sunglasses in the dark but the Highway Code stipulates that you should not wear them when driving at night. It is also inadvisable to wear them when weather conditions are poor, such as when it is raining heavily, it is foggy or snowing as visibility will be low. Tinted motorcycle helmets should also not be worn at night time or when the weather is bad.

Tips for Driving at Night

  • Have regular eye tests to ensure your sight is up to the required standard
  • Carry a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses in the car
  • Consider wearing anti-reflective lenses to reduce the light reflected from the lens surface
  • If you have any problems with your eyes, check with your optician for advice about driving at night

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