How to Handle Night Blindness and Headlight Glare

Cleveland Bidge; Bath, England.
Cleveland Bidge; Bath, England. | Source

Driving at night on unfamiliar highways is not aided by oncoming headlight glare. The glare is magnified by the fact that many people drive with the headlights' high beams on continually, no matter where they are or the general visibility of the roads.

In the State of Alaska, drivers must have their headlights switched on at all times, by state law, because of general visibility conditions at those lattitudes and climate. In Ohio, legislation was recently passed to require headlights switched on each time windshield wipers are activated. Other states have additional rules and regulations for driving related to visibility. Nighttime visibility remains a potential problem.

Boise, Idaho.
Boise, Idaho.

Night Blindness

From the Cleveland Clinic

Night Blindness is a condition of inability to see in dim light, also known as nyctalopia. It is apparently caused by other conditions of the eye. These can include:

  • Vitamin A deficiency, treatable with supplements and dietary adjustments.
  • Near-sightedness or myopia - A new eyeglass lens presciption can relieve the problem.
  • The effects of glaucoma medications - Ask your doctor about your medications and wether they should be changed.
  • Cataracts - The clouding of the lens inside of the eye. This not a growth over the outside of the eye, as some legends tell. Some cataracts can be treated by surgical removal and replacement with an opitcal lens - an aunt of mine had this successfully performed in the late 1970s and surgical techniques have improved quite a lot since then. It's even doen on an outpatient basis now.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa - Affecting close to 100,000 people in the USA, this is a condition of the rods and cones of the retina. They begin to lose function. No treatment or cure exists in 2010, but research is under way. Some forms of this conditioncan lead to eventual blindness, bit not all of them so do. See your eye doctor yearly for examinations. If you see flashing lights and have loss of vision to the side, these may be symptoms, so call your eye doctor.

NOTE: I find that I have suffered Vitamin A deficiency from time to time, but now examine my diet more carefully with that in mind. However, I also find that scratched eye glass lenses can cause lack of night vision, easily correctible with new lenses, although not always inexpensive.

Moncton at night.
Moncton at night.

Headlight Glare at Night

I hate headlight glare in good weather, let along rainy, icy, or snowy conditions. In severe weather, I have found that I simply must pull off to the side of the road until a surge of oncoming traffic has passed. One set of headlights is not a problem, but 20 sets of high beams drive me off the road. A yellow-lensed nighttime set of "sunglasses" is reputed to reduce the glare, but I have not yet tried any. If you have and they work, please note it in the Comments section below.

Cataracts can cause an inability to handle headlight glare and the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics advise that about half of all people over 65 have cataracts to one degree or another. Younger people may also suffer cataracts, even infants - from birth conditions, Younger people may suffer cataracts as an effect of diabetes or injury. Keeping the whole body healthy helps keep the eyes healthy. Fortunately, I do not have cataracts.

I find that driving when my eyes are tired from looking at computer screens too much will interfere with both night vision and ability to handle headlight glare, so I rest my eyes more often, especially before I drive at night. Cleaning my eyeglasses, sunglasses, and windshield regularly has also helped. Lastly, ensuring a proper intake of Vitamin A has been a tremendous help to my eyesight in the last year.

My particular situation is that eyeglass lenses scratch too easily, even with non-scratch surfaces and proper cleaning and storage. Part II of this is my eyesight is improving rather than declining, with astigmatism completely disappeared in recent years.

Perhaps one day I'll throw away the glasses, but but until the doctor comfirms my eye health.

Spearing Salmon By Torchlight, an oil painting by Paul Kane. Royal Ontario Museum.
Spearing Salmon By Torchlight, an oil painting by Paul Kane. Royal Ontario Museum.

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Comments - All the Better to See You With 25 comments

Rhonda Waits profile image

Rhonda Waits 6 years ago from The Emerald Coast

I agree with you hub. Eric is from Ohio and we visit there often. The weather is usually bad. Icy, Snowing and slick roadways. He wears yellow lensed glasses. He says they help him. So far so good on our driving safety. Great hub.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

I find as I get older I have reduced night vision. Driving with someone behind be who has their bright lights on severely limits my ability to see. It used to be a courtesy of the road to dim one's lights for oncoming vehicles or if driving closely behind another vehicle. It's a courtesy I still follow, but many people don't.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Wow, thanks Rhonda - I'll try some.

L.L. Woodard - I get Hummers with their huge bright lights in my rear view and side view mirrors. I have to turn the mirrors away and slow down. Sometimes, I have to pull off the road. I agree that many people don't dim their lights any more. But it's so hard to see on our roads, they'd probably wreck.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Yes, then both go out and then maybe they buy new headlights. Brighter ones probably, LOL

megmccormick profile image

megmccormick 6 years ago from Utah

My friend found out she had cataracts because of her night driving and how weird the lights were looking to her. Our eye health is precious.

lilibees profile image

lilibees 6 years ago

Great Hub thanks for the information!

2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I admit, I have a little trouble with glare when driving at night. That for the hub.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Good hub, Patty. I've been having trouble driving at night lately even though my eyes test 20-20. I experimented a bit with sunglasses which help when there's a large number of cars approaching with headlights blaring but I find I have to look over the top when there are no cars approaching with their lights glaring. I'll have to try those yellow sunglasses. More importantly, government should do a better job making sure the white lines on the road stay light and bright (often the lines are barely visible because they've been on the road so long.) When street lighting is adequate I don't have much trouble, but too many streets have poor lighting.

Roffi Grandiosa profile image

Roffi Grandiosa 6 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

headlight blare, serious issue.. thx for the information!

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

This is a wealth of information to say the least. I often have to use the fog-line (the white stripe painted at the right shoulder of the road) to help guide my path at night. You have given worthy night blindness advice for when headlight glare becomes a danger on a night drive. Thank you for sharing--up and awesome.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France

My husband has night headlight glare trouble. I believe this can be "fixed" with a type of lasik surgery. We are looking at the options just now as the condition is worst in bad weather.

chspublish profile image

chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

You're so right to srite this hub and point out the importance pf good eye health, good diet and check ups for monitoring diseases affecting eye sight.

Thanks for writing this.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

On this topic, the first thing I thought of was heaadlight glare and problems with night vision. I MUST get some of those yellow sunglasses for when my eyes are tired.

If Lasik surgery can help the glare problem, then that's a pretty good, quick solution. Cheers!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

Very useful info. I also have to turn the side mirror away when someone comes up behind me with their bright lights on. The regular rear view mirror has a night setting so that's not a problem. But the glare comes right in from the side and being a lower mirror its even more blinding.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Although I don't drive but it is a nuisance when some come close and glare comes into the mirror.

kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 6 years ago from Massachusetts

Thanks for all this useful information to help us all keep safe when we must drive for a long time at night. I will give those yellow sunglasses a try and see if they help on long road trips at night.

Great hub!!! Thumbs up!!!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have experienced the problem of headlight with cataracts.Also certain colors tend to glare out, like reds.

Gerald Mansell 5 years ago

I insist on ARC over yellow tint or I recommend Cacoon lemon sidekick to all complaints here at Duke Eye Center.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author


Roger Gray 5 years ago

I've read several articles that say driving with polarized glasses or "yellow sunglasses" is dangerous in that they reduce the amount of light to the eye. However it is also dangerous to be blinded by the light of oncoming headlights. The smart thing to do would be to not drive after dark if your driving is impaired. It may not always be possible but I don't want to be responsible for an accident or worse because I don't want to be inconvenienced.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

That's a point worth considering.

jess 4 years ago

I drive with polarized glasses at night, although I feel like an idiot wearing my dark tinted sunglasses, they help A LOT, with out them I would not be able to drive at night at all. The on coming headlights kill me with out them.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for that tip. I saw yellow-tinted glasses for night driving and I may try those.

joe m 3 years ago

for lights blinding from the rear, put a piece of something convex and shiny like chrome in your rear window to reflect the bright light to them and they will back off until it stops blinding them as it stops blinding you.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I might try that and hope it's legal here! Sounds effective.

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