When we’re behind the wheel, it’s easy to take our vision for granted until it’s limited. Think torrential downpours or unlit highways—or “They came out of nowhere!” In fact, 47% of regular drivers in the US consider their vision imperfect, or preventing them from driving or riding safely during the day. The number rises at night, going up to 67%.1
Fortunately, keeping up with annual eye exams can catch and address vision issues before they become an issue on the road. Let’s talk about some common changes in the eye that can make it harder to see clearly on the road—as well as how to maximize your vision when driving in bad weather.
Vision changes that can affect driving
Presbyopia is the natural loss of the elasticity of the lens in our eyes as we age. When we’re young, the flexibility of that lens makes it easier to see things up close. But around the age of 40, most people begin to notice that they need to hold things further away to read them. Things like the dashboard or navigation system in your car can also become more difficult to read. Fortunately, progressive lenses can help.
When the eyes don’t make enough tears, it can result in dry eye. Since symptoms often include stinging or burning, or blurred vision, it can make driving difficult, especially at night. Environmental factors can cause dry-eye—like allergies, or even your car’s air conditioning during the summer, and heater during the winter. And since windy conditions can worsen dry-eye, leaving the windows rolled down may contribute to it. An eye doctor can diagnose the condition and prescribe treatments or eye drops to improve dry-eye.
Astigmatism occurs when the eye is an irregular shape. It results in blurry vision both near and far, which can make reading road signs or dashboard instrumentation difficult during the day and especially at night. It’s common to have astigmatism in addition to nearsightedness or farsightedness, so ask your ophthalmologist if it’s a concern for you.
Road conditions that affect driving
With less light, everything becomes more difficult to see—especially on the road. In fact, while just 25% of all driving happens at night, nighttime accidents account for half of all driving deaths.5 To help reduce the risk, anti-reflective lenses can help cut down on glare, diminishing the reflections coming into the eye. And while it’s important to keep your vision healthy with an annual eye exam, keeping your car in good shape can maximize your vision on the road, too. Make sure…
- Both of your headlights are in working order
- Your windshield and mirrors are clean
- Any dirt, mud, or snow is cleaned off of your headlights
There’s nothing like the glare of the sun directly in your eyes while trying to watch a traffic light or when sitting bumper-to-bumper during rush hour. Keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car can help cut down on glare and make it much easier to see. Clean, chip-free windshields can help, and at night, avoid looking directly at the headlights of oncoming cars. Check your vision insurance, too—many benefits plans have options for getting a second pair of glasses, which can include a pair of prescription sunglasses.
With Eye360 — members now receive a $100 additional prescription glasses allowance.6 And that’s applied after our industry-leading 40% off second pair discount.7 It adds up to 68% savings versus retail on an additional pair.8 And it's perfect for getting a pair of prescription sunglasses for road safety.
Rain and snow
Rain and snow can both scatter and reflect light, as well as affect your peripheral vision by making it almost invisible.5 Especially during heavier rain or snowfall, we tend to focus straight ahead, unaware of the important information coming into our peripheral field of view. So when it’s raining or snowing heavily…
- Check your side mirrors regularly to keep track of your peripheral field of view
- Avoid using your high beams, since they only reflect light back into the eye, making it even more difficult to see
- Change your windshield wiper blades with the season; special cold-weather wiper blades can stand up to lower temps and icier conditions without cracking.
WATCH VIDEO — “The Complete Guide to Vision on the Road” video from the experts at LensCrafters answers all your questions about vision solutions for driving
Signs it may be time to visit the eye doctor
It’s already recommended to have an annual vision care exam, since eye exams can detect serious health issues beyond just blurry vision. But if you’re experiencing one or more of the following while driving, it may be time to schedule an appointment:
- Seeing halos around lights at night
- Trouble reading road signs in time to react
- Feeling sensitive to bright sunlight during the day, or street lights at night
- Sudden blurry vision or changes in your vision
To learn more about how you can help your employees keep their vision road-ready, talk to your EyeMed sales rep or visit eyemed.com.
1 “EssilorLuxottica joins forces with United Nations and Michelin to ensure good vision for safer roads”; EssilorLuxottica; essilorluxottica.com; September 9, 2022.
2 Boyd, K.; “What Is Presbyopia?”; American Academy of Ophthalmologists; aao.org; November 22, 2022.
3 Boyd, K.; “What Is Dry Eye? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment”; American Academy of Ophthalmologists; aao.org; July 25, 2022.
4 Boyd, K.; “What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment”; American Academy of Ophthalmologists; aao.org; August 5, 2022.
5 Debrowski, A.; “The complete guide to road-ready vision”; All About Vision; allaboutvision.com; August 2, 2021.
6 Additional prescription glasses allowance is available in conjunction with the Eye360 product and is only available to qualifying groups quoted after 7/1/23 with an effective date 1/1/24 and beyond. Additional glasses allowance can be used on frame and/or lenses, with or without options. Not available in all states.
7 Discounts are not insured benefits.
8 Based on EyeMed Book of Business 2022 average member out-of-pocket cost.