Night driving glasses investigated

Useful or useless? Night driving glasses seem like a great idea to help those with poor night vision, but are they really?

South Sherwood Street, Nottingham at dusk

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Whether dictated by genetics or simply because of age, poor vision in low light can make night-time driving very off-putting to many and the alleged promises made by a pair of £20 yellow-tinged glasses are enticing. But like adverts for perfume, perhaps they paint an unrealistic picture.

What night driving glasses claim

Night driving glasses are inexpensive prescription-free glasses, normally the lenses have a yellow tint, an anti-reflective coating, and are sometimes polarised. The yellow tint is to block some of the blue light from reaching your eyes. In the visible light spectrum, blue light has the highest amount of energy and is most likely to cause glare in the eye. The anti-reflective coating is to reduce glare and reflections on the lenses themselves (coming from headlights and streetlights, for example).

What night driving glasses do

Studies, such as the research conducted by the Schepens Eye Research Institute, have concluded that glasses like this make no difference to one’s ability to see more clearly while driving at night. That particular study used response times to pedestrians to find out.

Glasses of this type have been around for a long time. They were originally developed for hunters because they increase contrast during daylight thanks to that blue light blocking. It makes it easier to spot birds against the sky, for example. They can also be useful for daytime driving.

Man wearing hunting glasses aiming a shotgun
©Photo: Getty Images

While blocking some blue light may help reduce glare, it also reduces the overall amount of light hitting your eye. And for night driving, even less light is a hindrance.

Conditions that affect night vision

The condition of peoples’ eyesight comes down to genetics but also your eyesight does get worse as you age. Poor night vision often only becomes a proper annoyance beyond the age of 40. Conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, myopia, and even vitamin A deficiency can all make seeing in low light harder.

If you are having problems seeing at night, the first thing to do is visit an optician, rather than hitting up Amazon for a cheap pair of yellow-tinted glasses. If you already use glasses, an anti-reflective coating help reduce glare from lights at night. But if you don’t wear glasses, clear lenses with this anti-reflective coating won’t help you. As we stated before, it’s just to reduce the glare on the lenses themselves.

What you can do

In terms of car maintenance, there are simple things you can do to improve vision while driving at night (and during the day).

Keep your windscreen clean

Grubby windscreens are harder to see out of, this much is obvious, but glare is worse too. Keep your car’s screenwash topped up and spot clean the windscreen and windows with a glass cleaner when you need to. Below you’ll find our favourite screenwash and glass cleaner.

Best screenwash

Its importance can be easy to overlook as it's such a frequently used car cleaning product. The Totally Essential screenwash is great stuff, consisting of readily biodegradable alcohols and essential oils. It works as well as any screenwash and goes a long way (500ml of concentrate can make up to 20 litres of screenwash).

The bottle is even made from recycled plastic. If you want much better value for money, you can opt for the five-litre container. It has a pleasant subtle fragrance too.

Best glass cleaner
Autoglym Fast Glass 500ml
Price: $23.00

An incredibly versatile option for cleaning more than just normal glass, this spray from Autoglym can also be used to clean mirrors, Perspex, acrylic and plastic windows which makes it ideal for cleaning a 911 GT3 RS or Renault Megane R26R. It won't clean as thoroughly as a polish but will still give excellent results and a streak-free finish with just a few sprays and a wipe down.

Keep headlights clean and clear

Headlights do get hazy over time thanks to UV rays and grit. Restoring them is easy and you can find out all you need to know by reading our headlight restoration guide.

Make sure windscreen wipers are in good condition

Wipers that are worn and ineffective will not clear rain properly and you’ll soon find yourself looking through a rain-covered and therefore glary windscreen. Read our guide to windscreen wipers.

Interior lights

Reduce internal windscreen glare and eye strain by driving with interior lights off and dashboard lights dimmed.

Read next:

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Car roof bags: is it worth getting a backpack for your car?

The best biodegradable and waterless car cleaning products

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