Lenses for Night Driving

Lenses for Night Driving : Dispelling the Yellow Lens Myth

For some time among some quarters there has been a view that yellow or amber lenses provide some assistance for night driving vision. Older drivers speak of night driving vision problems, typically caused by pupil size becoming smaller as muscles stiffen.

However any tint of any colour reduces light transmission to the eye.

The effect at night is to reduce night vision when all light is needed and reduces the ability to detect pedestrians for example. Pedestrians have about 7 x greater casualty night-time risk when compared to daylight risk.

Importantly, there is no available scientific evidence to support the view that yellow lenses improve night vision and it is the strongly held view of both Professor Joanne Wood1 and Emeritus Professor Stephen Dain 2 that yellow lenses should not be dispensed for night driving given that yellow and amber lenses reduce light transmission when it is needed most, for example, to detect pedestrians at night..

As Leaders in this field of research their advice is highly significant because Professor Joanne Wood has extensive research experience in a number of areas with special relevance to vision and driving. Emeritus Professor Stephen Dain’s research has centred on Colour Vision and his work has led to the establishment of the Optics and Radiometry Laboratory which is able to measure light and colour and to test streetlights and traffic and railway signals amongst many other things.

As a consequence of the expert views that yellow lenses should not be used for night driving, Rx Safety advises optometrists and dispensers that we will not accept prescription safety jobs which require yellow or amber lenses.

Should the patient be insistent upon receiving yellow or amber lenses then Rx Safety can make such lenses in the density required but we advise against the wearer using these at night and we are unable to provide either certified or compliant marking and documentation to AS/NZS1337.6.

What advice can be offered to improve night time driving vision for anxious drivers wanting night vision driving improvement?

  1. Ensure corrective spectacles are worn
  2. Ensure correction includes astigmatism correction (don’t wear ready mades)  (drivers with uncorrected astigmatism have demonstrable increased crash risk)
  3. Distance SV and PALs both improve night driving performance
  4. Regular eye examinations
  5. Ensure headlights are clean
  6. Ensure windscreens are clean
  7. Don’t look directly at other cars headlights
  8. Wear spectacles rather than progressive contact lenses when driving at night
  9. Check Visual Acuity to ensure the driver is able to legally drive