Have you noticed problems while driving at night? Many drivers of all ages have difficulty seeing at night due to glare and halos around lights as well as problems with visual acuity. While these problems are more common in individuals over the age of 40, younger drivers can also be affected. To learn what causes vision problems at night and how you can stay safe while driving at night, keep reading.
Understanding What Causes Vision Problems at Night
A variety of conditions and eye problems can cause difficulty in seeing clearly at night. For younger drivers, the cause is often nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. For older drivers, the causes are often undiagnosed age-related eye conditions, like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.
Vision Problems in Younger Drivers
Younger drivers with night vision problems often have undiagnosed refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and depth perception problems related to lazy eyes, or they are wearing old glasses or contacts with out-of-date prescriptions. Individuals with these problems may have difficulty judging how far away an object is from their vehicle or have trouble reading road signs. Thankfully, a visit to an optometrist for new glasses or contacts can often correct the problem.
Vision Problems in Older Drivers
While older drivers can also have refractive errors that affect their visual acuity, they also tend to develop age-related eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. These conditions often have no symptoms other than sudden and progressive vision loss. For this reason, older drivers, especially those over 40 should get eye and vision exams at least once a year. Getting regular vision exams can help find these eye conditions and diseases in a timely manner and manage them so that they do not result in the complete inability to drive at night and night driving restriction on their driver’s license.
Night Driving Safety Tips
If you find yourself having trouble seeing at night due to halos, glare or loss of visual acuity, there are things you can do to improve your night driving safety.
Keep Your Headlights Clean and in Good Condition
Before getting into your vehicle to drive, take a look at your headlights. Are they clean? Does the plastic look foggy? If it does, take a paper towel and glass cleaner and clean your headlights. This will ensure that your headlights are not being limited by dirt and debris. Also, don’t forget to test your headlights by turning them on before driving for the evening.
Keep Your Windshield Clean
A dirty windshield can magnify glare and the inability to read street signs. In order to make sure your windshield is not impacting your ability to see and drive, make sure to clean the inside and outside of the glass regularly to remove dust, dirt and organic matter.
Adjust Your Interior Lights
Have you ever tried to look out your house window at night while the room lights were still on? It’s nearly impossible to see outside. The same is true for your vehicle. If you have your dash lights and interior lights too high, they can make it more difficult to see outside your car. Before you start driving for the evening, turn your dash lights on low and make sure your other interior lights are off.
Maintain Proper Vehicle Separation
If you have to drive at night, knowing that you can’t see as well at night as you can during the day, maintain extra space between your vehicle and the car in front of you. For most people, the amount of space should be equal to three or four vehicles or about 75 to 100-feet. Maintaining extra space gives you more time to react if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly or dramatically slows their speed.