How to Handle Night Blindness and Headlight Glare

Updated on June 5, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Degrees in medicine and psychology. Recognized contributions in allopathic & alternative medicine, brain research, and space medicine.

Cleveland Bridge, Bath, England.
Cleveland Bridge, Bath, England. | Source

Night Driving Safety

Driving at night on unfamiliar highways is not aided by oncoming headlight glare.

The glare of headlights in the opposite lane is magnified by the fact that many people drive with the high beams on continually, no matter where they are or the general visibility of the roads.

In 2017, automatic high-beam lighting was installed in upscale cars—and with this innovation, the more intense lighting will come on when the roadway is dark enough to warrant it. This may or may not stem the problem of nighttime glare.

Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage, Alaska | Source

In the State of Alaska, drivers must have their headlights switched on at all times, by state law, because of general visibility conditions at those latitudes and climate.

In Ohio, legislation was recently passed in the 2010s to require headlights switched on each time windshield wipers are activated. Other states have additional rules and regulations for driving related to visibility, but nighttime visibility remains a potential problem.


Causes of Night Blindeness

"According to the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio, night blindness is a condition of inability to see in dim light, also known as "nyctalopia" and affecting cells in the eye's retina. This condition can be caused by other conditions of the eye, which can include any of the following:

  • Vitamin A deficiency: This condition is easily treatable with supplements and dietary adjustments.
  • Near-sightedness or myopia: A new eyeglass lens prescription for this condition can relieve the problem. Have eye examines every one or two years.
  • Eye shape changes: The cornea may change shape by thinning, in a condition called "keratoconus." The exact cause is unknown.
  • The effects of glaucoma medications: Ask your doctor about your medications and whether they should be changed. Have that eye exam every one to two years.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are inside the eye, not on top of the front of the eye. The clouding of the lens inside of the eye is the cataract. This not a growth over the outside of the eye, as some legends insist. Some cataracts can be treated by surgical removal and replacement with an optical lens at the same time. In fact, an aunt of mine had this successfully performed in the late 1970s and surgical techniques have improved quite a lot since then. The procedure is even done on an outpatient basis now.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes mellitus Type I and Type II can have a variety of ill effects on vision and night blindness can be one of them.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa: Affecting close to 100,000 people in the USA, this is a condition of the rods and cones of the retina. They begin to lose function. No treatment or cure exists in 2010, but research is under way. Some forms of this condition can lead to eventual blindness, bit not all of them so do. See your eye doctor yearly for examinations. If you see flashing lights and have loss of vision to the side, these may be symptoms, so call your eye doctor.

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Keratoconus | Source
Glaucoma | Source

Night blindness is called "nyctalopia" by doctors. it makes seeing at night or in poor light difficult. It isn’t a disease, but rather a symptom of another problem like untreated nearsightedness.

— WebMD
Moncton at night.
Moncton at night. | Source

Headlight Glare at Night - What Works for Me

I hate headlight glare in good weather as much as I hate it in foggy, rainy, icy, or snowy conditions. Not being able to see the road ahead is a sure risk factor for traffic accidents and fatalities.

In severe weather, I have found that I simply must pull off to the side of the road until a surge of oncoming traffic has passed. One set of headlights is not a problem, but 20 sets of high beams drive me off the road. A nighttime set of "sunglasses" with yellow lenses is reputed to reduce the glare, but these glasses may not work for everyone. If you have them and they do work, please note it in the Comments section below.

Cataracts can cause an inability to handle headlight glare and the Cleveland and Mayo Clinics advise that about half of all people over 65 have cataracts to one degree or another. Younger people may also suffer cataracts, even infants - from birth conditions, Younger people may suffer cataracts as an effect of diabetes or injury. Keeping the whole body healthy helps keep the eyes healthy. Fortunately, I do not have cataracts.

I find that driving when my eyes are tired from looking at computer screens too much will interfere with both night vision and ability to handle headlight glare, so I rest my eyes more often, especially before I drive at night. Cleaning my eyeglasses, sunglasses, and windshield regularly has also helped. Lastly, ensuring a proper intake of Vitamin A has been a tremendous help to my eyesight in the last year.

My particular situation is that eyeglass lenses scratch too easily, even with non-scratch surfaces and proper cleaning and storage. Part II of this is my eyesight is improving rather than declining, with astigmatism completely disappeared in recent years.

Perhaps one day I'll throw away the glasses, but but until the doctor comfirms my eye health.

On a personal note, I find that I have suffered Vitamin A deficiency from time to time, but now I examine my diet more carefully with that in mind. However, I also find that scratched eye glass lenses can cause problems in night vision, easily correctable with new lenses, although not always inexpensive.

— The Author
"Spearing Salmon By Torchlight," an oil painting by Paul Kane. Royal Ontario Museum.
"Spearing Salmon By Torchlight," an oil painting by Paul Kane. Royal Ontario Museum.

© 2010 Patty Inglish

Comments - All the Better to See You With

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I might try that and hope it's legal here! Sounds effective.

    • profile image

      joe m 4 years ago

      for lights blinding from the rear, put a piece of something convex and shiny like chrome in your rear window to reflect the bright light to them and they will back off until it stops blinding them as it stops blinding you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for that tip. I saw yellow-tinted glasses for night driving and I may try those.

    • profile image

      jess 5 years ago

      I drive with polarized glasses at night, although I feel like an idiot wearing my dark tinted sunglasses, they help A LOT, with out them I would not be able to drive at night at all. The on coming headlights kill me with out them.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That's a point worth considering.

    • profile image

      Roger Gray 6 years ago

      I've read several articles that say driving with polarized glasses or "yellow sunglasses" is dangerous in that they reduce the amount of light to the eye. However it is also dangerous to be blinded by the light of oncoming headlights. The smart thing to do would be to not drive after dark if your driving is impaired. It may not always be possible but I don't want to be responsible for an accident or worse because I don't want to be inconvenienced.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016


    • profile image

      Gerald Mansell 7 years ago

      I insist on ARC over yellow tint or I recommend Cacoon lemon sidekick to all complaints here at Duke Eye Center.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I have experienced the problem of headlight with cataracts.Also certain colors tend to glare out, like reds.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for all this useful information to help us all keep safe when we must drive for a long time at night. I will give those yellow sunglasses a try and see if they help on long road trips at night.

      Great hub!!! Thumbs up!!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Although I don't drive but it is a nuisance when some come close and glare comes into the mirror.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 7 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Very useful info. I also have to turn the side mirror away when someone comes up behind me with their bright lights on. The regular rear view mirror has a night setting so that's not a problem. But the glare comes right in from the side and being a lower mirror its even more blinding.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      On this topic, the first thing I thought of was heaadlight glare and problems with night vision. I MUST get some of those yellow sunglasses for when my eyes are tired.

      If Lasik surgery can help the glare problem, then that's a pretty good, quick solution. Cheers!

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 7 years ago from Ireland

      You're so right to srite this hub and point out the importance pf good eye health, good diet and check ups for monitoring diseases affecting eye sight.

      Thanks for writing this.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 7 years ago from France

      My husband has night headlight glare trouble. I believe this can be "fixed" with a type of lasik surgery. We are looking at the options just now as the condition is worst in bad weather.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      This is a wealth of information to say the least. I often have to use the fog-line (the white stripe painted at the right shoulder of the road) to help guide my path at night. You have given worthy night blindness advice for when headlight glare becomes a danger on a night drive. Thank you for sharing--up and awesome.


    • Roffi Grandiosa profile image

      Roffi Grandiosa 7 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

      headlight blare, serious issue.. thx for the information!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Good hub, Patty. I've been having trouble driving at night lately even though my eyes test 20-20. I experimented a bit with sunglasses which help when there's a large number of cars approaching with headlights blaring but I find I have to look over the top when there are no cars approaching with their lights glaring. I'll have to try those yellow sunglasses. More importantly, government should do a better job making sure the white lines on the road stay light and bright (often the lines are barely visible because they've been on the road so long.) When street lighting is adequate I don't have much trouble, but too many streets have poor lighting.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I admit, I have a little trouble with glare when driving at night. That for the hub.

    • lilibees profile image

      lilibees 7 years ago

      Great Hub thanks for the information!

    • megmccormick profile image

      megmccormick 7 years ago from Utah

      My friend found out she had cataracts because of her night driving and how weird the lights were looking to her. Our eye health is precious.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Yes, then both go out and then maybe they buy new headlights. Brighter ones probably, LOL

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Wow, thanks Rhonda - I'll try some.

      L.L. Woodard - I get Hummers with their huge bright lights in my rear view and side view mirrors. I have to turn the mirrors away and slow down. Sometimes, I have to pull off the road. I agree that many people don't dim their lights any more. But it's so hard to see on our roads, they'd probably wreck.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I find as I get older I have reduced night vision. Driving with someone behind be who has their bright lights on severely limits my ability to see. It used to be a courtesy of the road to dim one's lights for oncoming vehicles or if driving closely behind another vehicle. It's a courtesy I still follow, but many people don't.

    • Rhonda Waits profile image

      Rhonda Musch 7 years ago from The Emerald Coast

      I agree with you hub. Eric is from Ohio and we visit there often. The weather is usually bad. Icy, Snowing and slick roadways. He wears yellow lensed glasses. He says they help him. So far so good on our driving safety. Great hub.