Driving at night can be hazardous when you have pre-existing conditions that impair your vision. In the winter, it is particularly important to seek treatment for vision problems since shorter days mean leaving work after dark coupled with icy roads which can lead to danger for drivers. Here’s why you should consider speaking with your eye doctor about potential solutions and surgical options to improve your vision that can make you a safer driver at nighttime.
Simply put, our pupils dilate in the dark which can lead to a myriad of vision issues while driving at nighttime. Dilated pupils enhance myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism which can make it difficult to see road hazards such as road signs, pedestrians, and animals. Also, oncoming headlight glare can become burdensome in patients who have developed cataracts or for someone who does not have an accurate prescription in their glasses or contacts. This can make it difficult and scary to drive at nighttime especially in areas that are poorly lit.
Types of vision impairment:
- Myopia (nearsightedness): Results in overall decreased vision at nighttime as well as difficulty identifying and avoiding hazards. You run a high risk of causing injury to yourself and others who share the road with you if you’re driving with this condition, particularly during the night.
- Astigmatism (abnormal curvature of eye): Results in streaky or blurred lights, which can negatively impact how you see car headlights and street lights. You will likely experience increased glare, halos, or streaks, which can cause you to squint.
- Presbyopia (farsightedness): Results in an inability to see your dashboard/GPS, which can prevent you from being able to safely monitor your speed, see the directions on the GPS or even ensure your headlights are on and working properly.
- Nyctalopia (night blindness): Can be caused by cataracts, glaucoma, vitamin deficiencies, and genetically inherited eye diseases. It heavily limits the capabilities of someone to see at nighttime and patients with this diagnosis should completely avoid driving at night.
The first step to improve vision in low light conditions is to have an up-to-date eye exam with your ophthalmologist or optometrist. For most people, making sure you have an accurate prescription and updating your glasses and contacts can significantly improve vision at night. Your eye doctor will also screen you for more serious conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and other vision-threatening eye diseases.
There are a wide variety of procedures available to correct the above vision issues that can make you a safer driver at nighttime. Laser vision correction such as Laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis (LASIK) or Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) can correct myopia and astigmatism. These are long-term, safe, and effective procedures that can fully correct your vision so that you can see clearly at night without the need for glasses and contacts. It is fairly easy to determine if one of these procedures is right for you. If you are not eligible for laser vision correction surgery or are interested in different options, there are alternatives available to you.
A safe and effective alternative to laser vision correction is the Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) surgery. This procedure treats nearsightedness and astigmatism, and essentially involves surgically implanting a permanent contact lens into the eye. This can achieve vision results that are equal to LASIK without having to permanently alter the structure of the eye. This is a great option for patients who have been told that they are not LASIK candidates or have too high of a prescription to safely undergo LASIK.
Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) is a good choice for anyone over the age of 45 with nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism and minimal cataract formation who require reading glasses to see up close. This procedure can restore a full range of vision in patients so that they no longer need glasses to see far away or up close. An added plus to this surgery is that it lasts for a lifetime and those who undergo it will never form a cataract.
Finally, Refractive Cataract Surgery is a potential choice for anyone suffering from glare, halos, and decreased vision at night time due to cataracts. This procedure is similar to traditional cataract surgery but comes with the added bonus of simultaneously correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism by correcting all of your prescription at the time of cataract surgery.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please visit please contact Dr. Salisbury today at https://salisbury-vision.com/contact/.