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Possible causes of poor vision when driving at night - A State of Sight #119

Seeing well to drive safely at night is very important. Frequently, we hear from our patients that they have difficulty driving at night due to poor vision or difficulty with glare.
 
Watch this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD to learn about a few of the possible causes of poor night driving vision and some potential solutions.


Welcome to A State of Sight, I’m Isaac Porter and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care from Raleigh. Today, I would like to explain a few problems that can cause difficulty with night driving vision. 
 
This is a common complaint, and one of the main reasons for our older patients could be the development of cataracts. You may remember that cataracts form when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. Once cataracts interfere with vision and cause difficulty in everyday situations, cataract surgery can help improve vision. 
 
Some of the problems that cataracts can cause with night driving vision are related to oncoming headlights. Patients may experience glare or other distortions from the bright lights. These can be in the form of halos (rings around headlights or streetlights) or a starburst effect (when a single point of light fans out in different directions). 
 
Different types of cataracts may cause more glare than others. Some cataracts just cause a total blur or dimming of vision.
 
Another time that we hear complaints about driving vision is early in the healing process after LASIK. Patients can have glare or notice starburst or halos. This is one of the more common side effects that we see after LASIK but it is also one of the more temporary ones.
 
Laser vision correction patients that notice this usually notice improvement over the first few weeks or months after surgery. After vision stabilizes, nearly everyone prefers their vision at night after LASIK compared to their night vision with glasses or contacts before surgery.
 
Uncorrected nearsightedness can also cause trouble seeing to drive at night. In other situations, being nearsighted can have some advantages, particularly in giving good vision up close. Some people who need a small correction for nearsightedness may have trouble driving at night when they are not wearing glasses or contacts. 
 
With nearsightedness, it is difficult to see far in the distance, and this becomes worse when it’s dark outside. Fortunately, this can be corrected with a glasses and some of our mildly myopic patients only wear glasses when they are driving at night, since they really don’t need them other times. 
 
I am very happy to have great uncorrected vision, but when it’s dark or raining, or if the lines on the road aren’t very good and have reflectors, it can be tough for me to see at night too. So some of the problems with night vision can just be normal. When it’s really dark or difficult to see it’s just tough to drive sometimes, even with healthy eyes. 
 
If you have any questions about driving at night or night vision please post below and we will be happy to answer them. If you have problems, give our office a call at 919-876-4064 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation of poor night vision. I hope to see you again next time on A State of Sight.