How do you drive at night with astigmatism?
Driving at Night With Astigmatism: 5 Tips to See Better
Driving while it’s dark outside is a challenge for everyone. However, if you have astigmatism or an irregular cornea or lens shape that affects your sight, you may have additional trouble seeing well enough for nighttime driving.
Signs You May Have Astigmatism
The most immediate signs of astigmatism are:
- Blurry vision
- Fuzzy images
- Light halos or streaks
- Glare from lights
- Needing to squint
If you are experiencing any of these, you should schedule an appointment for an eye exam. There are temporary and permanent solutions available for astigmatism, depending on the severity of your astigmatism, your budget, and your long-term goals.
Why Does Astigmatism Affect Nighttime Driving?
Due to how astigmatism refracts light inside your eyes, the light from headlights or traffic lights causes blurriness and glaring in your vision. At night, where the low ambient light contrasts with the bright flashes of other cars, this problem is worsened, making an already tricky endeavor dangerous.
Below are five tips for improving your symptoms of astigmatism while driving at night.
1. Practice Safe Driving
These safe driving tips are applicable even if you don’t have astigmatism.
First, no matter what time of day it is, if you have reduced vision, be sure to give yourself extra time for the trip. This way, you won’t feel pressured to go over the speed limit, giving yourself more opportunities to read passing signs, more leeway for reacting to sudden changes, and better preparedness for emergencies.
In the same vein, don’t drive when you’re tired if you can avoid it. When you’re tired, your eye strain will only be worse, making it even harder to see upcoming hazards. You’re also more likely to make mistakes, which can have serious consequences when driving at night.
Next, avoid looking directly at headlights and traffic lights while driving at night. This will minimize the amount of glare in your vision, even if it doesn’t fix the problem completely. Also, keep the lights inside your car low or off. This will help your eyes adjust to the lower light levels outside.
Finally, reduce the number of distractions around you while you drive. Distractions hamper your ability to focus on the road and hazards ahead, which is already made more difficult by astigmatism.
2. Try Astigmatism Eyeglasses
With astigmatism, driving at night is dangerous. Proper glasses can lessen that danger, bending the light before it reaches your eyes to reduce glare, halos, streaks, and general blurriness so that you can keep your focus on the road.
You’ll need an eye exam to find your exact prescription; then, you can pick out your new glasses in any style you want. You also have options for special lenses that can further improve your vision, eye health, and experience with glasses. These features can include:
- Glasses designed to reduce glare
- Transition lenses that become sunglasses during the day
- Water-repellent and shatter-proof lenses
- Lenses that reduce your exposure to harmful blue light from screens
You’ll need to update your prescription every few years. You’ll also need to take care not to break or lose your glasses.
3. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can help immensely with mild symptoms of astigmatism. This is a good option if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of glasses, but you’ll still need to see an optometrist to get the correct prescription.
Another advantage over glasses is that most contact lenses are so comfortable you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all, and you can leave them in all day. Other than that, the sight improvement is the same between them.
However, contact lenses need to be replaced sooner than glasses, potentially costing you more money.
Orthokeratology, also called “Ortho-K”, is the contact lens equivalent of wearing orthodontic braces. In this practice, you wear special contact lenses overnight while you sleep, then take them out in the morning. The lenses slowly change the shape of your cornea, improving your vision for the next day.
This is ideal for people who only have mild astigmatism, and it works best if you wear orthokeratology lenses every night. Like regular contacts, you’ll need to find your perfect fit with our optometrist.
However, orthokeratology is one of the more expensive fixes for astigmatism, and after you stop, the effects do not last more than a day or so.
5. Eye Surgery
The most effective option for vision trouble is to undergo a surgical procedure to correct the irregularities. This solution is usually permanent, so you don’t have to worry about glasses or contact lenses again afterward.
The most common form of eye surgery, which most people with astigmatisms qualify for, is LASIK. In this procedure, the surgeon changes the shape of the cornea with an extremely precise laser. It’s completely safe and can improve your vision immediately. There are some possible side effects or complications, but these are rare.
Other surgical procedures include:
- Epi-LASIK: Uses a surgical tool rather than a laser to access the cornea.
- LASEK: This is similar to LASIK but doesn’t cut as deep.
- PRK: To access the cornea, the epithelium is removed completely.
- SMILE: Some tissue is removed with a microscopic incision.
- Refractive or a toric lens replacement: Cataract surgery that replaces the defective lens in your eye.
- Lens implants: A contact lens is permanently inserted into the eye.
Surgery costs about the same as orthokeratology, but the effects are permanent. Your optometrist will be the best judge of whether you should consider surgery for your symptoms from astigmatism while driving at night.
Getting Professional Help for Your Astigmatism While Driving at Night
If night driving has become too difficult, even with glasses or contact lenses, it’s time to see a doctor. An optometrist can examine your vision and determine how severe the problem is, order custom glasses, or recommend surgery.
To start driving more comfortably at night, schedule an appointment with us online or by phone. Our professional teams at True Eye Experts will give you a comprehensive eye exam and offer a customized solution, so you can be confident in driving again. Contact us today!
About the Author
True Eye Experts
Our mission at True Eye Experts is simple — provide the best possible care to our patients. We make sure we’re doing this a few different ways. Our V-Eye-P Exam is one of the most comprehensive eye exams in the industry. We use state-of-the-art medical technology to screen, diagnose, and treat more conditions than most other providers in the area. We have an extensive collection of designer eyewear that can complement any patient’s face, style, and budget, and our advanced contact lens fitting process can help even “hard-to-fit” patients wear contacts comfortably. Book an appointment online at one of our True Eye Experts locations, conveniently located throughout Central Florida. Have questions or prefer to book over the phone? Give us a call today.
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How does driving at night affect your vision?
21 February 2023 Author: Kate Green
What are signs that you are struggling with night vision?
- Trouble seeing street signs clearly
- Difficulty adjusting vision after seeing oncoming headlights
- Finding it harder to judge distance and speed
- Needing to squint to focus your vision
- Feeling eye strain when staring at the road ahead for long periods
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important that you visit your optician for an eye test. You should be going every two years as a minimum anyway, in order to monitor your eye health and quickly detect any changes to your eyes or vision. However, it is especially crucial to seek medical advice if you struggle with driving at night, and even more so if your symptoms are worsening.
What is astigmatism?
Astigmatism makes driving in dark conditions even more difficult. It is a visual condition that causes blurry vision due to the shape of the eye. People with standard vision have eyes shaped more like footballs, while those with astigmatism tend to have eyes shaped closer to that of a rugby ball. Astigmatism occurs because either the cornea (eye’s surface) or the lens (inside the eye) is curved unevenly, stopping light from refracting properly on the retina. This results in blurred or distorted vision, although it can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or laser eye surgery. We also offer several advanced lens replacement and implantable contact lens surgeries which can correct astigmatism with specialised toric lenses.
People with astigmatism typically experience more glare and distortion from lights, made even worse in dark environments. This can understandably make driving in the dark particularly difficult, especially when it comes to dealing with oncoming headlights and streetlamps lining the road. As you age, your eyes take longer to adjust to different lighting levels, resulting in light sensitivity and problems with focusing.
What is night blindness?
Night blindness, which is also called nyctalopia, is a condition whereby your eyes are unable to adapt to low-light conditions. The retina, which is at the back of your eye, has two different types of photoreceptor cells to help you see. These are called rods and cones: rods are responsible for facilitating your night vision, while cones help your vision in bright light. Night blindness usually occurs as a result of issues with your rod cells, and occurs more commonly in people who are severely short-sighted (myopic). Night blindness is also more common in people who have a vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is needed for good eye health and is crucial when it comes to processing images as it transforms nerve impulses into images in the retina. You can learn more about night blindness by checking out our dedicated blog post covering the topic.
How to ensure you’re driving safely at night
A huge 43% of drivers in Britain have admitted that their view has been a bit blurry when driving in the dark and, on top of that, 73% of drivers have experienced discomfort from glaring oncoming headlights. It’s no wonder that large numbers of people are reluctant to drive in the dark. So, what can you do to ensure that you’re driving safely at night?
Firstly, making sure you’ve got the right eyewear is important. If it’s a bright day, sunglasses are an obvious essential to help combat the glare. If you wear glasses, you can also invest in glasses with an anti-glare coating to prevent the glare from affecting your vision whilst driving. Another factor which can contribute to increased light sensitivity is the presence of a cataract. These form naturally with age and can be detected at a routine eye test with your optician. Treatment for cataract removal is a simple procedure, carried out millions of times globally each year. As well as causing increased light sensitivity, cataracts lead to blurred and cloudy vision, further impairing your vision while driving.
Increase your vitamin A intake with foods rich in nutrients to improve your overall eye health. Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which is typically found in orange coloured foods like pumpkins, sweet potatoes and carrots. Vitamin A aids with the production of rod and cone cells in your retina, promoting better vision in low lighting. On top of this, it also minimises your risk of developing AMD, cataracts and glaucoma. Keeping on top of your overall health is also crucial to keep your eyes healthy, and this involves monitoring and, if needed, managing your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Some practical car-related advice to promote driving safely in the dark centres around cleaning your windscreen. You should remove the build-up of dirt and grime which can affect your view more than you realise. Dimming your dashboard lights to minimise the light contrast is also a good idea, and prevents you from being dazzled and struggling to adjust your vision back to a dark environment after glancing at it.
Studies have shown that road traffic accidents increase by 11% in the two week period after the clocks go back, when compared to the two weeks before. This highlights just how much dark conditions detract from people’s ability to see well and drive safely, further illustrating the importance of you following the above tips on monitoring and improving your night vision.
Improve your vision with corrective surgery
To ditch the glasses completely, have you considered treatments such as laser eye surgery or lens surgery? Over 98% of our patients achieve unaided driving standard vision after their surgery with us, meaning they can safely drive without having to rely on glasses or contact lenses. Discover more about our different types of refractive surgery which are available in 19 nationwide clinics:
- Laser eye surgery
- Lens replacement surgery
- Implantable contact lens surgery
- Cataract surgery
Our Customer Advisors are more than happy to give your further information on our vision correction options. Simply call us on 0800 093 1110, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or request your free info pack to learn more.
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At SynergEyes, we pride ourselves in delivering contact lens products that improve vision and ultimately enhance the quality of everyday life.
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Overcome Your Nighttime Driving Woes
Posted by Louise Curcio
Nighttime driving presents several unique challenges, especially for people who have astigmatism or age-related conditions such as cataracts or presbyopia. But while there’s not much you can do to change the anatomy of your eye or to stop growing older, a second look at your vision correction options can be the first step toward feeling more secure on the open road.
Why Is It So Much Harder to Drive at Night?
Light can be both a blessing and curse. We need light to see, but sometimes it feels blinding when it’s coming at us at 60 miles per hour on a rainy night. The visual effects produced under these conditions are amplified in people over 40. There are several reasons why this occurs.
Even if you don’t have an age-related eye disease like cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an older eye isn’t as flexible as a young one is. Most young people can automatically (and subconsciously) adjust the focus of their eyes between near and far distances. But as you age, the eye becomes less flexible and vision leans more toward a constant point of focus.
When it’s dark outside, the widened pupils can make vision worse because the light that does enter the eye tends to scatter more, instead of being focused on one part of the retina. Add to this an age-related loss in contrast sensitivity and it becomes obvious why driving at night can be so much more stressful as we age. It’s common to try to compensate for this stress by concentrating harder. But this also makes matters worse since it reduces healthy blinking.
The visual effects of these conditions are halo and glare. Halos are the bright circles that you see surrounding headlights. Glare is scattered light that reduces image contrast.
Astigmatism Is A Double Whammy
If you wear toric lenses for astigmatism, driving at night can be even more difficult since there’s a good chance you experience unstable vision and blur—in addition to the halo and glare discussed above. This happens because toric lenses must remain in a certain position on your eye for the varying distance prescriptions to be where you need them to be, without shifting position.
Unfortunately, most toric lens wearers report that their lenses rotate during the day. This lens rotation results in temporarily blurred vision, which can be a real problem—especially when you’re driving. And, since soft lenses can dry out toward the end of the day, they can get stuck out of alignment, making them harder to manually nudge back into place.
Tips To Help You See Better At Night
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make driving at night less stressful. Practical steps include:
Tip 1: Minimize distractions: Turn off your cell phone and slow down.
Tip 2: Dim the dashboard lighting.
Tip 3: If you wear glasses, make sure they have AR (anti-reflective) coating.
Tip 4: Have a clean, smudge-free windshield.
If you wear contact lenses for astigmatism and struggle with lens rotation, ask your doctor about advanced-technology hybrid contact lens designs that won’t cause blur in the event that your lens rotates. SynergEyes Duette hybrid lenses combine a gas permeable (GP) center (so that the optics are crisp and consistent) with a soft lens skirt (so that you also can enjoy the benefits of comfort and ease-of-wear).
Duette lenses are also available for people who don’t have astigmatism. In fact, each Duette lens is custom made to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism—and even presbyopia.
There are enough challenges involved in driving at night. Your contact lenses shouldn’t be one of them.