Posted on 19 October 2019
Autumn is in full swing and what comes with it are some of the most challenging driving conditions where sight is concerned.
If you’re not driving to work in the dark, you will be faced with very low sun and lots of road surface reflections which are worse still in the rain.
What that means for your eyes is either dark driving conditions with headlights, or low sun and glare from the road.
So what can be done to help you with these conditions?
1) Make sure your sight is corrected, best as can be.
In 2018 over 3000 road collisions in the UK involved a driver with vision below the driving limit. Some with vision that couldn’t be improved by wearing spectacles but there are so many drivers who vision could and should be improved to a good and safe level for driving.
There are thousands of drivers out there this very moment in the UK who are within the driving limits but who could see much sharper. Why settle for ok when you could have HD correction.
Even more worryingly there are many out there who fall below the driving level, who can be corrected by specs who choose not to be putting theirs and other road users safety in jeopardy. Police in the Midlands and Staffordshire have been given increased powers to stop and test people’s sight at the roadside, revoking licences on the spot if you fail to see the licence plate from 20m away.
Some individuals are aware that their vision is not good enough for driving and choose to drive anyway, but many are completely unaware that they no longer meet the vision driving requirements, often because their vision has deteriorated slowly with time, which can be more difficult to detect. This teamed with a low awareness of the visual standard to read a number plate at 20 meters away on a clear day, leads to individuals driving illegally. A recent study found that 50% of Optometrists had come across one or more individuals that knew they not meet the driving standard, but said they would continue to drive anyway, during a one month period.
One of these people may be a friend or relative of yours. Many have glasses but won’t wear them others may not have had a test in years. It’s important to educate these people in the importance of correcting their sight when driving, it could save a life.
If you haven't had a sight test in the last 2 years, get yourself checked out.
2) Keep you windows and mirrors clean
By keeping your windows and windscreen clean, you can avoid extra glare and condensation. This is especially prevalent in Winter, with the falling leaves and debris. Dirty mirrors can reflect and distort light so keeping them clean is essential to a safe drive. If it has been raining, then make sure you give them a wipe, so the droplets don’t further disrupt your vision.
3) Polarised sunglasses
Sunglasses are a key item all people should have. But if you are a driver, make sure they are polarised. Ordinary sunglasses only protect and relieve your eyes from the brightness of the sun, polarised lenses also eliminate glare that reflects off the road surface and dashboard. Polarised lenses are available as a second pair from £50.
4) Coatings and coloured filters.
Lens manufacturers spend a lot of money in research and development of new coatings and tints which may improve a patient’s lifestyle. Driving coatings and tints are a big part of this development especially as headlight brightness and colour has changed with the introduction of a bluer based LED bulb.
In a nutshell a yellow filter helps with the brightness and colour of this LED bulb.
You may have seen some adverts selling yellow driving lenses or clip on’s. Sadly the vast majority of these are illegal for night driving in the UK as they leave you unable to see certain colours and therefore miss hazards on the roads.
Lens manufacturers have managed to create a coating which gives this yellowing and therefore dampening effect to the brightness of headlights while still giving you clarity of other colours, making them safe for night driving.
These coatings can be applied to single vision and Varifocal lenses.
However for some the yellowing can be a hindrance when not driving so they are more suitable as a second pair for specialist use when driving.
5) Transitions XTRActive
Normal photochromic lenses react when UV light hits the surface of the lens causing a change in the molecules meaning the lens goes from clear to tinted. The problem in a car is that most of the UV is reflected off the windscreen meaning they react poorly inside a car.
Transitions XTRActive work differently meaning they react and adapt to the levels of light you experience whilst driving and even leave a mild tint to help with unwanted headlight glare when clear whilst conditions are dark outside. This type of treatment can now be applied to the majority of lens types.
6) Driving Varifocals
There are now specialist varifocals for use when driving. Rather than the conventional design of a varifocal where the narrowest field of view is the intermediate range (the distance at which the speed dials etc sits), a driving varifocal gives an extra wide distance field of view and a much wider intermediate range, sacrificing the near distance area which is not needed when driving.
These again are best served as a second pair as not having the near area may be a hindrance to everyday life.
7) Don’t look directly into the lights
Headlights when directly looked at leave an after image for several seconds on the retina making it difficult to re adjust to the dark road. Avert your gaze keeping your eyes focused down on the road rather than up into the lights.
If you have any questions about lenses which may help you in these conditions call your nearest practice today, where one of our Dispensing Opticians will be happy to discuss our range and offers.