DRIVING/TOWING - 4WD DRIVING SKILLS
The myth that yellow-tinted driving glasses can help you see better at night just won’t go away. Scientists have debunked the idea and you can read why right here.
Eyesight professionals know it is a common misconception that amber- or yellow-tinted or yellow-polarized night-driving glasses are beneficial for night-time driving. The claim is that yellow or amber colours reduce glare and improve contrast.
However, in reality, when driving at night or dusk in already limited lighting conditions, any tint reduces the amount of light transmitted to the eye and, consequently, further impairs vision. The problem is compounded by the impression that the yellow tint gives wearers better night vision, when in fact the reverse is actually true.
The myth about the value of yellow-tinted lenses persisted in France, where vehicle headlights had to have yellow globes or lenses, until 1993, when they were outlawed by ECE regulations.
A US scientific paper titled, ‘Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety’, Merrill J. Allen, O.D., Ph.D., Et al states:
“Yellow ‘night-driving’ lenses have been shown to provide no benefit in seeing ability at night: they are even hazardous, because they give the driver a feeling of seeing better, which no one has yet been able to explain.
“Studies have shown that they actually impair visual performance and retard glare recovery.
“Many promoters have made unfounded claims for the ability of amber to improve night vision, employing mass solicitation, usually by mail (and by social media – Ed).
“The US Federal Trade Commission has correctly ruled that such practices are illegal since the lenses do not perform as claimed.”
While yellow lenses can be effective for foggy or hazy daylight conditions, they are not effective against headlight glare and should not be worn at dusk or night. If glare from headlights is a problem, the first step should be a thorough eye examination, as this could be an early indication of cataracts or other medical conditions.
“So-called night-driving glasses are amber-tinted eyewear meant to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights and, while they may make the driver feel more comfortable, they also reduce the wearer’s vision of the darker portions of the roadway,” said the Sunglass Association of America.
The best option for night-time driving is a pair of spectacles with clear lenses and an AR coating. The AR coating minimizes internal reflections within the lenses, reducing halo effects and increasing the transmittance of light through the lens to the eye.
However, it is important to note that if a driver does not normally wear spectacles, AR-coated lenses, or any other type of night driving glasses will not improve night vision, because AR coatings only minimise aberrations that are inherent in ophthalmic lenses. Night-driving glasses will simply introduce those aberrations to the wearer’s vision.
Tips for optimal night-time driving vision: ensure your eyes are examined regularly; always wear glasses or contact lenses with an up-to-date prescription; lenses should be clear with an AR coating; ensure lenses are clean; ensure windscreen is clean – inside as well as outside – and ensure headlights are clean and properly aligned.