Safe strategies for drivers with night blindness

Millions of drivers have difficulty seeing well when the sun goes down. Diagnosis: night blindness or nyctalopia!

Driving at night can pose a risk for even the most seasoned motorist, but when someone’s vision is impaired in dim light, the traffic death rates are three to four times greater, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Reportedly, ninety percent of a driver’s reaction depends on vision. Contrast sensitivity, depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision are all compromised as dusk turns to night because our eyes are constantly trying to adapt to the growing darkness. Age makes things worse: a 50-year-old driver presents a higher road risk at night and needs twice as much light to see than someone who is twenty years younger. Night vision is very important in all aspects of life, not just for driving. Travis Pike also suggests that while target shooting or hunting at night can be fun, it can also be challenging without the correct equipment. If you find that you’re struggling to see in the dark, it might be helpful to contact a professional.

Fortunately, all is not doom and gloom. Night blindness sufferers might not have to park their vehicles at sundown, if they follow these suggested safety precautions:

  • At night, headlights limit the visual field, illuminating only about 250 to 350 feet of the road ahead. At sixty miles an hour, most vehicles will cover 350 feet in four seconds, so if you slow down, you’ll have more time to spot a hazard and respond in a crisis.
  • Speaking of headlights, keep them clean. Road grime and yellowed haze on headlights can block up to 90 percent of their light, reducing your ability to see the road ahead. Make sure headlights are properly aligned, too, as mis-aimed ones will not only blind other drivers but also cut down road visibility. Not sure if your headlights are angled correctly or produce the same amount of light as they did when they were new? Not to worry, this is why companies such as Xenons Online exist. From standard halogen bulbs to LED headlights, you may have found a solution to your problem. It is always important to make sure your car is on top form before you take it out for a drive.
    Get your headlights checked by an auto mechanic at least once a year.
  • If you’re an eyeglass wearer, opt for frames with thin sidepieces, so as not to hinder your ability to see from the side.
  • Some instrument panels are just too bright and distracting. Dimming a car’s instrument panel will prevent forward vision from being compromised.
  • Don’t stare at the bright glare of oncoming lights from other motorists’ vehicles. Instead, focus your eyes on the right edge of the road and use it as a steering guide. Getting hit with high beams from rear? Just move your rearview mirror to redirect the light away from your eyes and reflect the light backward to alert the jerky driver.
  • Forget about tailgating! Always maintain a greater-than-normal distance from the car up ahead.
  • Driving distractions should be drop-kicked to the curb: no eating, smoking, drinking or cell phone use while maneuvering a car at night;
  • A dirty, streaky windshield is sure to give off glare at night. Use a newspaper to wipe the glass clean and streak-free. (Don’t forget to give a swipe to side- and rear-view mirrors, too.)
  • If your eyes feel tired, don’t ignore them. Rest stops were designed to give motorists a much-needed time out during their travels. Take a walk or catch a snooze but give those peepers a break.
  • Eyes need to get checked by a healthcare professional. The American Optometric Association advises folks to get their eyes examined every three years if you’re under 40, every two years until you’re age 60 and once a year thereafter. Make sure that your case of night blindness is not caused by any number of conditions such as cataracts (clouded vision), myopia (nearsightedness), retinal damage or some congenital problem. Only an eye care specialist can determine if whether your night blindness is brought on by an underlying condition. Getting regular eye exams is essential to managing night blindness and aids in keeping us all safer on the roads.

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