Night Driving Glasses

If you go to Amazon right now, and search for ‘night driving glasses’, guess what you get? Yep, page after page of glasses with yellow lenses. Some guarantee to provide “high definition night vision”, others promise to “brighten the dark areas of the road”, one even claims to “turn night into day”.  Many of these have sold thousands, and have hundreds of five star reviews. With so many products on the market and so many great testimonials, there must be some solid evidence that these lenses work…Right? Actually, no; there is simply no scientific evidence that proves yellow lenses do anything to enhance your night vision. In fact, scientists and eye care professionals advise against them.

clear lenses versus yellow tinted lenses for night drivingWhere did the idea of using colored lenses to see better, originate? Actually, the first group of people to begin using colored lenses to enhance their vision, was competitive shooters or marksman. Many competitive shooters feel that yellow, amber, or burnt orange colored lenses enhance visual contrast, making it easier to see their targets. There are even many professional truck drivers that swear yellow lenses help them see better at night. With that being said, why does science say they are wrong?

Laboratory tests have shown that yellow lenses do not improve people’s reaction time, depth perception, visual contrast, or the ability to see better in low light. The fact is, yellow lenses actually reduce the transmittance of light through the lens, to the eye, making it even harder to see at night.

tinted yellow lenses, visible light transmissionHere is a simple way of looking at it…Let’s say you have crystal clear lenses in your glasses. Those lenses would allow a maximum of 100% of light to pass through them, and reach your eyes. Add a 20% tint to those lenses (the average amount of tint in a colored lens), be it blue, green, red, yellow, etc., and you are blocking 20% of the light that is reaching your eyes, actually impairing your visual performance. So wouldn’t that make it hazardous for promoters to make these unfounded claims? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says yes.

The FTC made a ruling against an Illinois based company who sold and marketed glasses with yellow lenses as being able to “make night driving safer by improving night vision.” They were forced to pay a hefty fine, while the FTC provided every customer with a notice that wearing these glasses while driving at night may, in fact, be unsafe. Wait…Professional marksman, professional truck drivers, and hundreds of happy Amazon customers all say yellow lenses are great; scientists, eye care professionals, and the FTC say no…Who is right, who is wrong?

The bottom line is this…The idea that yellow lenses will improve your night vision, simply cannot be proven. There is actually much evidence leaning in the other direction. Much of the ‘proof’ that they work, is anecdotal. People see the ads, read the great reviews, try them out, and are given a false impression that they are seeing better, when in fact the reverse is actually true. So what can you do to enhance your vision while driving at night?

There are several proven ways to optimize your nighttime driving vision:

  • Have your eyes examined regularly
  • Always wear an up-to-date prescription
  • Have an anti-reflective coating applied to your eyeglass lenses
  • Ensure your eyeglass lenses are clean
  • Keep the inside and outside of your windshield clean
  • Be sure that your headlights are clean and properly aligned