Glare from headlights and what you can do about it

Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In my 10 years of working in optics I have been noticing patients complaining about glare from headlights more frequently, and not just the older ones. A good friend of mine, aged 26, approached me recently struggling with debilitating glare when driving at night which noticeably knocked her confidence when behind the wheel. Thankfully there are a multitude of lenses that spectacle wearers can have to reduce this problem and she now has complete confidence when driving at night. I myself also struggle, never being sure if the car behind me is flashing their fog lights or just going over a small bump in the road.

So why do we get glare? As our pupils enlarge at night they let more artificial light into the eye which causes disruption and irritation to the vision. Which is also why experience of glare is different for each individual, some may not notice glare at all while others find it extremely irritating.

So why are more and more people struggling with glare from headlights? Well the answer is newer cars, have you noticed that newer model cars tend to have brighter headlights? Well that’s because modern cars have switched from HID headlights (which are bright to begin with) to LED headlights, which are much more energy efficient but a lot brighter. If you type in “headlights too bright” on Google there are pages and pages of people complaining on forums. Unfortunately there’s not a lot to be done about enforcing dimmer headlights on cars, many have tried and failed but there are lenses you can get, prescription and non-prescription, which can make life easier for you on the roads at night.

Have a sight test – Keep your eyes happy and the rest will follow, having an up to date prescription in your spectacles at all times is key. In older patients it may also flag up a developing cataract as glare is a common symptom.

Anti-glare coatings – This is not something that would benefit people that don’t wear spectacles, the idea of these coatings is to transmit more light through the lenses to avoid aberrations, or light scatter which can be experienced when wearing uncoated spectacle lenses. Very simple yet effective and it is normally dispensed as a matter of course to most patients. This is ideal for someone who experiences mild glare.

Rodenstock Road lenses – As mentioned in a previous blog the Rodenstock Road lenses incorporate a superior anti-glare coating with a specific filter to reduce glare even more so than a standard anti-glare coating. Rodenstock also use very skilled measurements to incorporate into the lens which can reduce aberrations and achieve better clarity of vision. This is ideal for someone who experiences moderate glare.

Anti Glare effects

Image credit Rodenstock

Norville VistaMesh lenses – This is one style of lens that is suitable for patients with or without a spectacle prescription. Norville use a special brown contrast filter, which looks like a mesh effect on closer inspection. The lens works to align scattered light, reduce flicker and reduce eye strain which combined all help in reducing glare. This is ideal for someone who experiences severe glare.

glasses tints

Image credit The Norville Group Ltd

Myth: Yellow tinted lenses help reduce glare at night, although often dispensed in the past yellow tinted lenses actually have the opposite effect. Yellow tints are often very dark, they may improve contrast of vision (excellent for some sports) but in dark conditions not very helpful.

We as a practice have had great success with all of the above solutions; however remember everyone is different so it’s always worth coming in to speak to one of our dispensing opticians so we can find the right lens solution to suit your visual needs.

Until next time!

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