Avoid Glare from Oncoming Headlights: What to Do

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Blinded by Headlights? Here’s what to do’ by Doctor Eye Health

Written by: Recapz Bot

Written by: Recapz Bot

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Driving at night can be challenging due to darkness, dilated pupils, glare, and potential risks from headlights.

Key Insights

  • Driving at night can be challenging because of the darkness and the dilation of the pupils.
  • Dilated pupils allow more light into the eye, but also reduce depth of focus.
  • Oncoming headlights can cause physical pain when they hit the eyes, due to the rapid constriction of pupils.
  • Newer headlights can cause photoretinal bleaching, leading to temporary blindness and difficulty in seeing details.
  • Glare from brighter headlights, especially those with blue light, can be disturbing and cause problems in vision.
  • Glare can be worsened by dirty windshields or eye conditions like cataracts.
  • Tips to improve nighttime driving include ensuring proper alignment and cleanliness of headlights, as well as cleaning windshields.
  • Regular eye check-ups and updated glasses prescriptions can improve vision while driving.
  • Anti-reflective coatings on glasses can reduce glare.
  • Yellow nighttime driving glasses may help reduce glare, but their effectiveness varies.
  • Supplements like lutein and zeaxanthin can improve pigment layers in the eyes, reducing light sensitivity.
  • There are medications available to constrict pupils and reduce glare, but they are considered off-label treatments.
  • Increasing the brightness of the dashboard lights may help constrict pupils and reduce glare.
  • Blue oncoming headlights and their potential danger are discussed.
  • The video suggests discussing these issues with an eye doctor for personalized advice.

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Transcript

[Jazz and Shine, Dr. Alan here and today we’re going to be talking about headlights. You know those super bright headlights that bother you while you’re driving at night time. We’ll be talking about why we have such challenges driving at night time in the first place and then what you can do about those bright oncoming headlights. I have a lot of patients who come in every single week telling me they can’t see well at driving at night time and that headlights really bother them. So I wanted to list out a couple of tips, things that will help you. So let’s get going.

So first off, why do we struggle with driving at night time in the first place? And why do headlights seem too bright nowadays? And why do they seem to bother us more now than they used to like 20 some years ago? So first of all, of course, driving at night is dark out in the human eye. We just don’t see as well. There’s not enough light to see all the details around us.

But specifically for why driving at night is more challenging really falls into two reasons. First of which has to do with your pupil size. When it is dark out, your pupil dilates really wide. This allows more light energy to get into the retina to stimulate it so that you can detect motion and other objects at night time. This is kind of a survival mechanism because you can imagine if you’re in a forest somewhere and something like a predator is rustling in the bushes, off to your side vision if you’re able to see that motion, you’re more likely to move, get out of the way, run away and survive.

The downside to having a large dilated pupil is that you lose what is called your depth of focus. This happens when we dilate our patients in the clinic all the time. They feel like they can still see things, but everything around the edges seems to have a subtle little blur to it. And that’s because with a dilated pupil, you have a good focus ability, but it’s a very narrow range of focus. Where normally with a small pupil, your range is really big. So while you’re driving, you can still see road signs, but everything in front of that road sign and everything behind that road sign is just out of focus and not as sharp.

And of course, the reason why oncoming headlights can induce even physical pain to our eyes is because when that headlight comes and hits you, your pupil can constrict really fast. And that constriction of those pupillary muscles, you can sometimes feel them and it becomes painful.

Now the second reason why driving at nighttime sucks so bad has to do with the new headlights themselves. The first problem has to do with what is called photoretinal bleaching. You know how if you look at a bright flashlight, even for just a second, if it’s super bright, there’s kind of this afterglow effect where you can see this after image of the light bulb itself, but everything in your visual kind of visual perception seems blanketed in kind of this whitish glow for a few seconds.

So this is something where a car, it may be coming your way in front of you with his headlights on, or perhaps a big truck will be behind you shining its bright lights into the rear view mirror and then hitting you in the eyes there. Either way, the lights can bleach the photoreceptors in the back of your retina and it takes some time for these photoreceptors to sort of rejuvenate and wake up and reset. And that can be really scary because if that happens to you, there’s this few seconds where you just can’t see details in front of you, maybe hard for you to see the lines on the road, maybe can’t see another car or an animal or even a pedestrian that may come off maybe the side of the road. And that’s where the headlights, especially these newer brighter ones can become almost dangerous in a way.

And the other reason why headlights can be such a problem and even dangerous has to do with glare. And this is really true when it comes to the newer headlights that are out, because I remember growing up as a young kid, most headlights on cars were kind of this yellow tungsten sort of color because there were halogen light bulbs. And then around the year 2000, they invented what are called xenon headlights. And then eventually LED headlights came out and the newer xenon and LED lights, they give off way more of a white and even a bluish hue of light. In fact, let me know if you’ve ever seen a bright blue headlight coming your way. And if they bother you, I think personally they should probably be made illegal in some way because when I see them, they not only are bothersome visually, like I can’t see, but they cause almost like a physical pain inside my eye. But compared to the older softer yellow colored lights, people really didn’t have a problem with those old yellow lights, not like they do today.

And that’s because even with the brightness levels kept the same, the new whiter blue lights, your neurological system perceives as being brighter. On top of this, in newer research studies, blue light has been found to be more triggering and disturbing for our neurological system. And blue light

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Blinded by Headlights? Here’s what to do’ by Doctor Eye Health