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Driving in difficult conditions. How we can help.

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2023

Driving in difficult conditions. How we can help.

I don’t know about you but, im starting to feel the cold. Extra layers and woolly hats are definitely needed which means only one thing, Winter is well and truly on its way. Autumn and Winter brings some of the most challenging driving conditions especially where sight is concerned.
If you’re not driving in the dark or rain, you will be faced with very low sun and lots of road surface reflections which are worse still after rain leaves the road wet making it feel like a mirror.
What that means for your eyes is either dark driving conditions with headlights, or low sun and glare from the road.

Driving specific lenses are a great addition to any drivers spectacle collection and any driver shouldn’t be without a pair of sunglasses and particularly polarised lenses for best correction of road and driving conditions. Best of all both are a great way to make use of our second pair discount which is 25% off or 30% if you are a member of our VeyeP scheme.

Driving specific lenses

These are a specialist lens designed specifically to enhance vision in all driving conditions aiming to provide:
1. Better vision in bad weather, at night or at dawn or dusk
2. Less glare
3. Fewer vision problems when shifting focus

For some these lenses are not just great for driving specific but also a perfect lens for everyday life.

So what makes these different from normal Single vision or Varifocal lenses.

A// Night Myopia

Both single vision and varifocal options feature an optimised lens design that takes into account the size of our pupils in poor light. In dark conditions our pupils dilate (get bigger) meaning we become a little bit short sighted. These lenses correct both dilated and un dilated prescriptions by having 2 power areas in the lens. This doesn’t effect vision when in brighter conditions but gives sharper vision in the dark. The result: improved and unimpaired vision when driving in poor light.

B// Specialist lens coating

These lenses have used a special new coating to take into account the many different situations during driving when our eyes are confronted with glare. The Crizal Drive coating from Essilor and DuraVision® DriveSafe coating by ZEISS partially reflects wavelengths in the high-energy, visible portion of the blue light spectrum, including the band around the wavelength of 450 nm. The effect is reduced discomfort from glare by up to 64%* compared to other premium Anti Reflective coatings.

C// Specific lens design for progressives/varifocals

Driving varifocals offer a special design to make driving with progressive lenses more comfortable and safer. The optimised vision zones make it easier for the eyes to refocus when moving between the road ahead and the dashboard and the rear view or side mirrors. Horizontal movements of the head are reduced.
Zeiss and Varilux (Essilor) offer these benefits in their Drivesafe and Roadpilot lens options. They differ slightly in design for near with the drivesafe near zone is designed so that DriveSafe glasses can be worn all day long – they are also suitable for other activities, including reading, whereas the road pilot aims to provide as optimal conditions for distance and intermediate distances sacrificing closest distances.

To find out which best suits your vision needs talk to one of our qualified dispensing opticians.

Polarised sunspecs

Polarised sunspecs are the best sun protection for driving as they eliminate glare reflected off the road and dashboard.
Light waves travel in many directions. When light waves reflect off of horizontal surfaces such as roads, water or ice they (the light beams) become concentrated horizontally. This is seen as visible glare, which can be uncomfortable for our eyes and potentially dangerous especially when driving as you may miss a hazard or be too blinded to keep your eyes open. This type of glare is not eliminated by regularly tinted lenses, a standard tint just lowers the intensity of the glare.

Lenses with Polarised technology allow only vertical directed light beams through the lens and therefore eliminate blinding glare for optimal visual comfort and safety. If your into your fishing you would have already at least heard about this form of lens, rather than see the water like a mirror you see straight into it seeing any of the fish below the surface, oh and rocks you may trip over.
In a nut shell, its the best lens form for drivers (no glare from road, no reflections on the glass of the dashboard), aswell as anyone who spends time around water, snow or sand.
There are lots of polarising lenses on the market which in a nutshell all reduce these horizontal light waves, but when you take light away you lose colour perception and clarity. Xperio polarised lenses reduce the unwanted rays with market leading performance while also enhancing colour perception.
Xperio Polarised combines the 2 technologies; eliminates harsh, blinding glare and provides a pop making colours still stand out for a dynamic range of visual experience. This is achieved by improving colour perception and stopping dazzling light to travelling through the lens. Xperio also offers the highest level of UV protection meaning optimum ocular health properties too.

What are they available in?
This technology is available in both single vision (including no power) and various Varifocal designs meaning we can match them to your everyday lenses. The lenses can be made thinner and lighter if your prescription is higher.
But these lenses are not the only thing you can do to make your life easier feeling more confident and safe on the road this winter.

There are other things people can do to help drive during the autumn and winter months aside form the products above.
Here are our practical and optical tips:

1) Make sure your sight is corrected, best as can be.
A recent study found that 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. Another 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. Don't forget to clean the inside of the windows too, often dirt can be on the inside windows which demist pads just smear making things worse.

3) Polarised sunglasses
As discussed before 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 in all lens forms from all our practices.

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 standard single vision and Varifocal lenses aswell as the driving specific lenses discussed in the blog before.
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.

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.

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