Night driving has always been precarious, but in the past few years, it seems that glare from headlights, tail lights, streetlights and road signage has become more extreme. While the lights themselves are technically no brighter than they were before, there are a few factors that cause our eyes to perceive them as such. Here we dig into why our vision tends to suffer at night, and what we can do to alleviate the problem (hint: it involves Eagle Eyes’ night driving glasses).
The Switch to LED & Laser lights
Since 1983, halogen lights have been the norm for cars, and for 20+ years, our eyes grew used to seeing their soft, diffuse yellow glow on the road. But light styles began to change in the early aughts, when more companies began to make the switch to LED. These days, laser lights have also entered the picture. While the actual “brightness” of headlights and taillights is highly regulated, it’s clear that the effect of LED and laser lights on our eyes is very different from that of halogen.
Nowadays, we’re confronted with a variety of halogen, LED and laser car lights whenever we hit the road, and this mixture of lights can strain and stress the eyes. Both LED and lasers emit a much crisper blue/white light than their predecessors, which affects our vision in two ways:
- The novelty of appearance attracts our attention, causing us to stare into the bright light longer than we would with more familiar halogen lights.
- The glow of these lights is much sharper and less diffused, increasing the degree of contrast between the lights and their dark surroundings. Both scenarios can impair vision.
LED and laser lights also appear on billboards, streetlights and road signs, adding yet more instances of high-glare lighting to our nighttime driving routes.
Another factor that can contribute to glare is the misalignment of headlight bulbs. The auto industry regulates the sightline at which headlights should appear in automobile design; however, it can be difficult for automakers to control this aspect during manufacturing. Light installation is one of the last elements in the production line, and sometimes lights end up mounted at a higher angle than regulation dictates. Once these cars are on the road, their offset lights can significantly increase glare and impair other drivers’ vision.
The industry recognizes this issue, and has implemented stricter testing protocol to address the problem, but there are still cars on the road that display offset lighting. Until they’re out of circulation, the glare will persist.
So what can be done to mitigate dangerous nighttime glare? From an industry standpoint, automakers have developed “smart lights,” which use sensors to adjust light brightness based on the presence/absence of other cars. This technology is now available on some cars, but it will be decades before this system becomes the norm (if it even catches on), and it doesn’t solve the problem with road signs and streetlights.
A more immediate solution that addresses all kinds of nighttime glare? Eagle Eyes’ night driving glasses. Our Night-Lite® lenses are specifically designed to filter out high-intensity glare and soften harsh lights from oncoming cars, streetlights, billboards and other road signs while enhancing clarity and definition.
Our glare protection glasses are available in a wide array of styles including club, sport, aviator, clip-on and fit-on to suit every wearer. While we can’t change the lights around us, we can at least shield our eyes from their harsh effects. Check out the full selection of Eagle Eyes night driving glasses here.