The Dangers of Night Driving Glasses

It is an all too common misconception that yellow tinted or yellow polarized night driving glasses are beneficial for night time driving. The thought is, the yellow or amber color reduces glare and improves contrast. However, in reality, when driving at night or dusk in already limited lighting conditions, ANY tint further reduces the amount of light transmitted to the eye, and consequently, further impairs vision. The problem is compounded as the yellow tint gives the wearer the impression they are seeing better, when in fact the reverse is actually true.

“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. They have employed mass solicitation, usually by mail. The Federal Trade Commission has correctly ruled that such practices are illegal since the lenses do not perform as claimed.” – Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety”, Merrill J. Allen, O.D., Ph.D., Et al.

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 generally amber tinted eyewear meant to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights. While they may make the driver feel more comfortable, they also reduce the wearers visibility of the darker portions of the roadway.” – 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 is beneficial in two ways. First, it minimizes internal reflections within the lenses, reducing halo problems, and second, it increases the transmittance of light through the lens to the eye. However, it is important to note, if a patient does not normally wear spectacles, AR coated lenses, or any other type of night driving glasses will not improve night vision, as AR coatings only minimize aberrations that are inherent in ophthalmic lenses and night driving glasses will simply serve to introduce those abberations to the wearer’s vision.

Tips for optimal night time driving vision:
- Make sure eyes are examined regularly
- Always wear an up-to-date prescription
- Lenses worn should be clear with an AR coating
- Ensure lenses are clean
- Ensure windshield is clean
- Ensure headlights are clean and properly aligned

Responsible dispensers of ophthalmic lenses should discourage the use of tinted, polarized, or photochromic lenses in night time or dusk driving conditions and not participate in solicitation or marketing of so-called night driving glasses by irresponsible manufacturers.

118 Comments

  1. Yellow tinted driving glasses can be purchased polarized or non-polarized. Wouldn’t the polarized version block even more light? Would they further reduce glare?

    • I want to know why & how nightview.com is advertising & selling these glasses if they are illegal

      • The glasses aren’t illegal. Some of the manufacturer’s claim might be. Learn to read.

        • Why dont you learn to be nice & gentleman like when answering questions Justin?

        • You are so rude the only way you can be heard is
          online since I’m sure no one wants to ever
          speak to you in person.

  2. I am a 67 yo male who wears progressive lenses with AR coatings. Over the past five years, I noted a significant deterioration in my night vision. Two dominant effects: 1) Less ability to resolve signs at a distance, and 2) halos, starbursts, etc around on-coming headlights. I did a number of tests to see whether this was related to a degraded windshield, degraded eyeglass coatings, or my eyes. Finally two things helped immensely: 1) I have chronic dry eye — using artificial eye drops helped reduce the rainbows, starbursts, etc and 2) switching to top tier laser lenses (with same correction as before) improved my distance vision greatly. I will now check out polarized, yellow tinted glasses with an additional +.50 correction.

    • Thanks for the eye drop tip. I know it works when I’m watching tv but never thought beyond that. Thank you so much.

    • Do NOT wear tinted lenses at night! You were smart to get top tear digitally ground free form lenses, but you will degrade your ability to see at night by adding a tint, or worse yet a tint with polarization.

      By the way, adding +.50 diopers, unless that’s what your refractive error actually calls for, will blur you even more than the tint will.

  3. Pagpow. I am a few years older, but my problems are similar, and my glasses are similar. I intend to check out the additional correction, and the yellow lenses with and without the polarization. Top tier laser lenses is new terminology to me. I will be looking into that also. Thanks for the response.

    Ron

  4. what is “top tier laser lenses” exactly?

    • Top teir laser lenses would be something like a Nikon Customized lens, or any comparable Free Form type lens.

      It means that the lens itself is made differently – the manufacturer uses a digital method and computers to cut the prescription in the lens using a point-by-point map, giving you the most accurate lens that can be made.

      • “New” is not always better. I tried these top-of-the-line Nikon Custom made lenses, and they were TERRIBLE. I had my vision re-checked, and had these lenses re-made…..still not good vision. I went back to my older Zeiss made lenses, and they worked beautifully. So, just know that all “new and improved” things may not be all they say it is.

  5. Thank you I almost bought them, now I won’t.

  6. starbursts and halos means you need cataract surgery simple___10 minutes per eye almost free in canada

    • Unless you are trained, certified eye care professional it is extremely irresponsible for you to diagnos anyones vision difficulties. Unless your a physician keep your opinions to yourself

      • It wasn’t a diagnosis, you imbecile. It was a suggestion to GET a diagnosis. Go crawl in a cave, you simpleton.

        • No, @Jag read better, the comment was definitely making a diagnosis. @terry h said, “starbursts and halos mean you need catarats” which is clearly saying if you see these things, starbursts & halos, then I am saying you have cataracts & need surgery.

    • Terry H , you are correct that halo may indicate cataract and the surgery is about 10 minutes… But..some car washer use a polymer product in thier car wash that create the starbursts or halo effect at night.
      I have discover that Rain-X and like products contain the polymers as well

    • Thanks for your response. I have the halo/starburst effect at night. Went to eye doctor two weeks ago and was told I am showing signs of cataracs. Asked when they will be “ripe” enough to remove. Was told 5-10 years. YIKES!!!!

      • If in fact you have early stages of cataracts, there is no need to wait. There is no such thing waiting for them to get “ripe”. The time is now.

    • You are completely irresponsible and very full of yourself to presume to know that someone needs cataract surgery – starbursts and halos… one needs to consider if the individual wears contact lenses! When wearing contact lenses and driving at night – I see halos and it’s been that way for over 30 years! I do not see the same halos when I wear my glasses and drive at night. I did not have cataracts at the ripe age of 17 nor do I have them now. Get your facts straight!

      • Why can’t people respond to a comment without character assassinations and insults? It is an indication of the ill-mannered culture we have become and makes public discourse unpleasant.

      • Oh, for Pete’s sake, do you really think a doctor is going to just start cutting on a person’s eyes because somebody left a reader comment about needing cataract surgery? Clearly, you all just need something to bitch about.

        And not one would have the guts to make such attacks to anyone’s face.

  7. They do make a huge difference at dusk. I do a lot of driving at dusk for my work and I’ve found that dusk is the worst time to be on the road because the sky is still fairly bright but the road is pretty dark. My eyes are constantly adjusting between the two. Yellow lenses take the edges off of the extremes and make the road and objects at that level stand out much more. Once it’s dark however, the lenses come off.

  8. I don’t think having a problem seeing when someone is shining two bright lights directly into your face is an indication of a vision problem. I think quite the reverse is true. If you can see, or think you can see, with bright lights shining in your face, you have a problem.

    I can see fine in the dark, better than most in fact. I can drive at night with no problems – until oncoming traffic brings in the light pollution.

    • Yea same here. and I’m 21, I don’t think 21 year olds can get cataracts!

      • why not?

      • I once knew a young man in his 20s who had cataracts and glaucoma. cataracts can form at any age.

      • I had cataracts in both eyes at 23….. Go to your eye doctor, it is possible!!

      • I was born with cataracts, I am now 33 and I struggle at night to see, they are very small not worth doing anything about.

    • Spot on! I live in the UK and have to drive down country lanes. Car head lights are getting brighter and brighter. My eyesight is fine as long as one of those cars with way to bright headlights are directly in my eyes.

    • Agreed….. The manufactures of these Ultra-Bright lamps are, as one can expect, irresponsible in the name of ‘Capitalism’…. Why our government is so hyped on highway safety and yet the idiots haven’t figured out how pupils adjust to ambient light; DUH! With technology of the day all overhead highway and all vehicle lamps should be able to power up or down in brightness depending on ambient light of the moment.

    • I agree. Then add the rain. Almost impossible to see.

    • I am old too but when we took driver training in the 60 they always taught us to look slightly down and to the right when cars are on coming

    • almost everyone i know complains of bright headlights. Either the whole world is suddenly getting cataracts and glaucoma, or its simply that car manufacturers are acting irresponsibly increasing brightness of lights, and there should be regulation. There’s no sense at all in dipped beams being extra-bright, i can see someone holding a weak torch from a mile off. They don’t increase indicator brightness no it seems indicators are getting dimmer so you can’t see them in the sun. ho hum.

  9. Thanks for this article. I am wondering if clear AR glasses will help me – I had lasik surgery done and while my eyesight is great during the day, I suffer from considerable starburst effect from oncoming traffic at night. So will AR clear glasses help?

  10. I drove 100s of thousand km with Bosch ambermatic Aviation photochromic lenses over the years. My eyes were more comfortable and relaxed due to what I felt was reduced glare. I felt that with less glare, my ability to see everything was improved. My peripheral vision also improved.

    My clear prescription lenses with AR coating DO not cut glare, reduce squinting and relax my eyes. I continue to experiment with 2 new pairs of glasses with AR.

    My eye specialist does not think that I require cataract surgery.

    I am also thinking of trying an added .5 correction to a new pair of yellow or amber glasses.

    Can anyone suggest a good quality Canadian provider?

  11. Thank you for the informative article…you saved me some money today.

  12. I have early cataracts and suffer a lot at night from the starburst effect. My opthamologist tells me it will be years before my cataracts develop to the point where I can get corrective surgery. Wish something will help with night driving and glare.

  13. I don’t care! I can’t see at night to drive and when I have to drive long distances at night it is very hard. These kind of glasses look like they would help me on those long distances. I am about blind anyway so it doesn’t matter. I am limited anyway and it’s damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I wear sunglasses all the time anyway during the day and have done so for years with my contacts. S0 just shut up.

    • I love my night vision glasses and don’t want to be without them when driving at night. The other night I drove out of the gas station and I had much difficulty seeing the road. Lots of cars/lights/ and it had been raining so much glare. I was wearing my progressives with antiglare. They do not work. I quick changed to night vision and had no trouble driving away. I put them on and leave them on. You need to get used to wearing them but it does not take long at all. I have two pair and keep both in the car. I consider myself a danger if I don’t wear them.

      • Which night vision glasses do you use?

    • COME ON!! You are sitting here telling others to shut up and telling everyone who reads this that you are a mostly nlind person without enough common sense to know that without good sight uou are a danger to yourself and EVERYONE ELSE ON THE ROAD. Maybe you should give up driving altogether and perhaps save a life instead.

  14. I have had cataract surgery using Toric IOL lenses. My vision is now excellent (20/15), but I still have the same problem I have had for many years before my cataracts came along. Glare during the day and night both cause difficulty seeing things clearly. Glasses with RayBan Yellow lenses make a huge difference in my ability to see things clearly. Properly dyed lenses with the newer Advanced Anti-reflective coatings work period.

    • Can you be more specific about what glasses you use, especially at night. My mother is in the exact same situation post cataracts surgery and her physician suggested getting some glasses, but couldn’t tell her what kind or where? Thanks for any info!

  15. If night vision glasses are dangerous, why does the government let them be sold on the TV commercials. I am thinking of buying some, both my husband and I have had cataract surgery. Is our government that dumb? To let something that is dangerous to be sold on TV?

    • I do not attest to be an eye expert. However, I need to respond to the “Is our government that dumb” part. Government is dumb and irresponsible on so many levels. It is all about the almighty dollar. Think about it…They allow non-food ingredients in what we eat. Never depend on our goverment to do what’s good for us.

  16. I don’t think waring night vision goggle while driving is smart either,

  17. I can’t abide by this. I have been wearing yellow lensed glasses for almost 25 years while driving at night. I also have had Lasik sugery done to my eyes and still wear them. It makes a huge difference to my ability to see well. While I do pay for the better glasses it will be part of my arsenal against the multi different headlights coming at me on the highway. It helps most when oncoming traffic won’t dim their headlights, also I don’t have the eye fatigue when I have to drive for 7 or 8 hours a pop!

  18. In my opinon, these “experts” are wrong. I wear prescription progressives, that are treated with Crizal. At night, I wear yellow lense clipons SO THAT I CAN SEE TO SAFELY DRIVE. Without them, I get so much glare from oncoming traffic, that I can’t hardly see the road. With them, I drive just fine, and I can still see the dark areas of the road. Here’s another thing that will likely through them for a loop. In the rain, I always wear my sunglasses. It takes away the haze and glare and I can absolutely see MUCH better in the rain with them on.

  19. Macular Degeneration also causes sensitivity to glare and it can get it in your early 50′s. It can be in one or both eyes. Make sure you see an eye doctor with the equipment to detect this as early as possible (not just a visual exam). Speaking from experience here.

  20. I totally DISAGREE with you.

    I bought a pair of “night vision” glasses for $8 off eBay with doubts it would work but was at the point of desperation with dark winter driving conditions and the audacity and obnoxiousness of drivers of oncoming traffic who use their high beams, jacked-up trucks whose headlights are directly in my line of vision, or those that run over-the-top bright HID headlights; all that blind me.

    The “night vision” (which are really re-marketed yellow lensed shooting glasses) work. They are not significantly tinted that they reduce vision in the dark as long as there is reasonable ambient light. I often drive along roads in the dark early morning that only have street lights on the other side of the road and I can still see the road ahead.

    They do not significantly alter the colors of traffic lights as long as you do not suffer from color blindness. Green is still green, yellow is still yellow, and red is still red.

    I don’t think they provide more contrast as claimed but they certainly reduce the glare and blinding brightness of oncoming traffic. That’s worth sparing an accident or hitting a pedestrian than the $8 I paid. So if you’re telling me it’s a better option to NOT use these and be blinded by the bright lights of oncoming traffic and possibly hit a pedestrian then I think your advice is the greater of two evils.

  21. I thank every one for their comments on this subject. It has brought some xtra light that I have been looking for.

  22. Whilst driving at night you should not be looking directly at oncoming headlights, rather as your own headlights when dipped will point to the verge on the side of the road your eyes should follow them so you will be looking mainly at the your own side of the road and the verge next to you instead of directly at the oncoming side. It is difficult to not let your eyes be drawn but if driving many night miles as I have then you “train” your eyes and it does help keep distorted vision down and also eye strain.

  23. When I became 65 I voluntarily relinquished my driving license not because of illness but because your eyesight does deteriorate, your reactions DO slow down, more at risk of heart attack and stroke and because the new breed of road user has become much more erratic. I mean even cyclists suffer road rage these days and driving I found was no longer pleasurable but a much more daunting and unpleasant experience. I now use public transport and walk much more, get groceries delivered now and I find it a lot less stressful. I know it is not an option for everyone even if retired due to location and sparsity of public services but if you really dont need to drive I would reccommend it for your own well being and sanity. It made my life a little better.

  24. train yourself to look to the righ edge of the road when the really bright ones come at you. Also make sure you turn your dashboard lights down really low to where you can just read your speed. Keep it as dark in your car as possible. Main thing is keep your windshield spotless. Adjust your side mirrors out further where you have to really lean to see out the side an put your rear view on night vision. Simple stuff once you get used to doing it all the time. Also they sell yellow sun visers that clip on your regular viser. That might be nicer than wearing glasses. I used to do most of my trucking at night. Days without sleeping. Worked for me.

  25. when will they make a law that says you must align your headlights to point at the road properly and enforce it. Yes the headlights getting brigher and being pointed up and outward dont help. Driving at normal cars from the 60′s thru 90′s is fine but these new photon guns from hell are rediculous. My windshield is tinted black and I hold a hat in front of my face while I drive which is almost as dangerous as when I see the projector beams and nothing else. At least with the hat I can see tiny bits around it. seriously. these headlights are disturbingly dangerous

    • Carl

      I don’t know where you live but, here in Ontario the Highway Traffic Act stipulates how and where vehicular headlights are to be aimed, and what candlepower they must conform to. I suspect all of Canada would be the same.
      Also, having a black tinted wind shield is definitely illegal and dangerous.

  26. I wear navy seals night vision sniper goggles and look through the refracted light in the periscope installed in my car’s roof.

    • and I thought I was the only one

  27. Obviously Night Driving Glasses are bad for this companies business … ie, the company running this site!

    Hence the propaganda!

    • Obviously. Selling more glasses can’t be anything but bad for a company that makes glasses.

      • I think Tony meant that Night Driving glasses are bad for business from a competitive perspective. In other words, this article is to keep other companies (competition) from selling more glasses and taking away their potential buyers.

  28. The whole process of ordering from them (via Plymouth Direct) is sleazy with bait and switch techniques to make you spend more money than the original advertised amount (not including s/h & tax.) You have to spend more for the Premium (which later is worded Deluxe) for the scratch-resistant and polarize lenses! The “hook line” hint is that you get all that with the $9.99 for two pairs but you pay extra for each pair!!!

    I made the mistake of knowing this scam and ordering anyway because I thought I was going to get a quality product…WRONG!! When I got the items and tried and tested them under various light conditions, I was shocked by the cheap, no-polarizing, lousy optics of what turns out to be just pairs of “Chinese Cheap” yellow tinted glasses that do nothing more than make the glaring worst and the clarity was worst than NOT wearing them at all!!!! The yellow tint just creates the illusion of brightness! Any yellow tint glasses would do that!!!

    Then to add insult to injury, the Item # and Order # DID NOT MATCH on the invoice that came with the crap, with the info on my Order Confirmation sheet that I printed from the product webpage!!! The invoice also did not give any other info about what I got. I call the Cust. Serv. Dept and requested a full REFUND, filled out the Refund Form that came with the product (thank goodness!) and sent the dangerous glasses back so fast, I almost broke my neck (no really but you get it…)

    Companies like that should be sued, shitted on, and shot! Don’t fall for th’ “Sucka’ Bait!!!!” You have been warned………

  29. Hi I was wondering if anyone knew if Walmart carries these night vision glasses?

  30. My first thought was that these are designed somehow to let yellow streetlamps through and reflect a large portion of white headlights. Was considering them, never have problems driving in dark lanes its always headlights in my face. streetlights here are no longer yellow though i don’t see that they could work, and your fullbeams aren’t anyway. polarization maybe, but i don’t think there is a proper solution.

  31. HELLO! When you get older, you get more sensitive to glare. Add these stupid HID, Quartz and LED headlights and we old folks are totally blinded at night. Sure, you 20-year olds can see farther, but I am going to run into you because you blinded me. Even with the old incandescent high-beams, all we had to do was blink and we were OK. ( when they make me King for a day, I will fix the headlight law)

    Yellow tint completely solves this problem. Not only does it knock out the blue glare, but I can see further and deeper into dark areas. My wife and I have been using them for 10 years. Without them, my wife could not drive at night. Now, get rid of the HID and quartz lights, we would be fine. Until then, we will stay on the yellow bandwagon. I agree, prescription tinted are better than clip-ons. I would like to see more work done to be even more selective to the blue end.

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