Driving while it’s dark outside is a challenge for everyone. However, if you have astigmatism or an irregular cornea or lens shape that affects your sight, you may have additional trouble seeing well enough for nighttime driving.
Signs You May Have Astigmatism
The most immediate signs of astigmatism are:
- Blurry vision
- Fuzzy images
- Light halos or streaks
- Glare from lights
- Needing to squint
If you are experiencing any of these, you should schedule an appointment for an eye exam. There are temporary and permanent solutions available for astigmatism, depending on the severity of your astigmatism, your budget, and your long-term goals.
Why Does Astigmatism Affect Nighttime Driving?
Due to how astigmatism refracts light inside your eyes, the light from headlights or traffic lights causes blurriness and glaring in your vision. At night, where the low ambient light contrasts with the bright flashes of other cars, this problem is worsened, making an already tricky endeavor dangerous.
Below are five tips for improving your symptoms of astigmatism while driving at night.
1. Practice Safe Driving
These safe driving tips are applicable even if you don’t have astigmatism.
First, no matter what time of day it is, if you have reduced vision, be sure to give yourself extra time for the trip. This way, you won’t feel pressured to go over the speed limit, giving yourself more opportunities to read passing signs, more leeway for reacting to sudden changes, and better preparedness for emergencies.
In the same vein, don’t drive when you’re tired if you can avoid it. When you’re tired, your eye strain will only be worse, making it even harder to see upcoming hazards. You’re also more likely to make mistakes, which can have serious consequences when driving at night.
Next, avoid looking directly at headlights and traffic lights while driving at night. This will minimize the amount of glare in your vision, even if it doesn’t fix the problem completely. Also, keep the lights inside your car low or off. This will help your eyes adjust to the lower light levels outside.
Finally, reduce the number of distractions around you while you drive. Distractions hamper your ability to focus on the road and hazards ahead, which is already made more difficult by astigmatism.
2. Try Astigmatism Eyeglasses
With astigmatism, driving at night is dangerous. Proper glasses can lessen that danger, bending the light before it reaches your eyes to reduce glare, halos, streaks, and general blurriness so that you can keep your focus on the road.
You’ll need an eye exam to find your exact prescription; then, you can pick out your new glasses in any style you want. You also have options for special lenses that can further improve your vision, eye health, and experience with glasses. These features can include:
- Glasses designed to reduce glare
- Transition lenses that become sunglasses during the day
- Water-repellent and shatter-proof lenses
- Lenses that reduce your exposure to harmful blue light from screens
You’ll need to update your prescription every few years. You’ll also need to take care not to break or lose your glasses.
3. Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can help immensely with mild symptoms of astigmatism. This is a good option if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of glasses, but you’ll still need to see an optometrist to get the correct prescription.
Another advantage over glasses is that most contact lenses are so comfortable you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all, and you can leave them in all day. Other than that, the sight improvement is the same between them.
However, contact lenses need to be replaced sooner than glasses, potentially costing you more money.
Orthokeratology, also called “Ortho-K”, is the contact lens equivalent of wearing orthodontic braces. In this practice, you wear special contact lenses overnight while you sleep, then take them out in the morning. The lenses slowly change the shape of your cornea, improving your vision for the next day.
This is ideal for people who only have mild astigmatism, and it works best if you wear orthokeratology lenses every night. Like regular contacts, you’ll need to find your perfect fit with our optometrist.
However, orthokeratology is one of the more expensive fixes for astigmatism, and after you stop, the effects do not last more than a day or so.
5. Eye Surgery
The most effective option for vision trouble is to undergo a surgical procedure to correct the irregularities. This solution is usually permanent, so you don’t have to worry about glasses or contact lenses again afterward.
The most common form of eye surgery, which most people with astigmatisms qualify for, is LASIK. In this procedure, the surgeon changes the shape of the cornea with an extremely precise laser. It’s completely safe and can improve your vision immediately. There are some possible side effects or complications, but these are rare.
Other surgical procedures include:
- Epi-LASIK: Uses a surgical tool rather than a laser to access the cornea.
- LASEK: This is similar to LASIK but doesn’t cut as deep.
- PRK: To access the cornea, the epithelium is removed completely.
- SMILE: Some tissue is removed with a microscopic incision.
- Refractive or a toric lens replacement: Cataract surgery that replaces the defective lens in your eye.
- Lens implants: A contact lens is permanently inserted into the eye.
Surgery costs about the same as orthokeratology, but the effects are permanent. Your optometrist will be the best judge of whether you should consider surgery for your symptoms from astigmatism while driving at night.
Getting Professional Help for Your Astigmatism While Driving at Night
If night driving has become too difficult, even with glasses or contact lenses, it’s time to see a doctor. An optometrist can examine your vision and determine how severe the problem is, order custom glasses, or recommend surgery.
To start driving more comfortably at night, schedule an appointment with us online or by phone. Our professional teams at True Eye Experts will give you a comprehensive eye exam and offer a customized solution, so you can be confident in driving again. Contact us today!