If you’ve ever experienced problems from the glare from the headlights of oncoming cars or halos around lights while driving at night, you’ve experienced some of the ways that astigmatism can affect your vision at night. Read on to learn more.
What is Astigmatism
Astigmatism refers to blurred and altered vision that occurs when the eye doesn’t bend or refract light properly. According to the Canadian Optometrists’ Association, astigmatism is not a disease but a common vision condition. The most common symptoms of astigmatism are blurry or distorted vision, both close up and at a distance, headaches and eye discomfort. You may also have a harder time seeing clearly at night, especially while driving.
What causes astigmatism?
Astigmatism is caused by small differences in the growth and alignment of the components of the eye. Genetics may play a role in the development of refractive error. That means you might not only inherit your Mom’s baby blues, but her astigmatism as well. The condition can develop early in life which is why it’s so important for children to receive regular eye exams with their Toronto area optometrist. Astigmatism may also result from such factors as pressure of the eyelids on the cornea.
How does astigmatism affect your vision at night?
At night, and in other low light situations, your pupil dilates (gets larger) to allow in more light. When this happens, more peripheral light enters your eye. This causes more blurring and glare, and makes lights appear fuzzy.
You don’t need astigmatism to have trouble seeing well in the dark notes Healthline.com. Many people have trouble seeing well at night. In fact, many other eye diseases and disorders contribute to night blindness, including:
What effect can astigmatism have on night driving?
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s hard to see at night while you’re driving, it may be that an astigmatism is affecting your vision and the lights at night aggravate it. If you’ve experienced the following you may have an astigmatism:
- lights and other objects may look blurry or fuzzy
- lights may have halos around them
- lights may appear streaky
- increased glare and aggravation from lights
- squinting to see more clearly
Be sure to notify your eye doctor if you start having trouble with your night vision, or if you notice any of the symptoms above.
What can help improve night vision and issues with lights and night driving?
If you’re having trouble seeing lights and objects clearly, especially at night, the first step is to see an eye doctor. An eye exam can help determine if you have astigmatism or if you have a different eye condition that is negatively impacting your vision.
Treatment for Astigmatism
If you have mild to moderate astigmatism, your eye doctor may prescribe corrective lenses for you. Options for corrective lenses include:
- Eyeglasses- the use of prescription lenses in glasses can help correct the way light bends into your eye and can correct other vision issues, like nearsightedness or farsightedness.
- Contact lenses– contact lenses are another option to correct the way that light bends into your eye and improve your eyesight.
- Orthokeratology– this treatment involves wearing rigid contact lenses, typically while you’re sleeping, to temporarily correct the shape of your cornea.
- Toric lens implant- this is an option for people with astigmatism and cataracts and involves surgically replacing your eye’s misshapen lens with a special type of lens that corrects the shape of your eye.
If you already wear glasses or contact lenses for astigmatism correction, then you should wear them while driving at night. If you are still having problems seeing lights and objects clearly then you may need to have your prescription adjusted.
Do night driving glasses help?
Night driving glasses have yellow-tinted lenses which supposedly cut down on glare and help you see better at night. Exercise caution however, as according to All About Vision, a small study out of Harvard found that night driving glasses didn’t improve pedestrian detection at night or reduce the negative effects of headlight glare. In fact, since the glasses are tinted and block out some light, they may actually end up reducing overall visibility.
To sum it up
Astigmatism is a common eye condition and larger astigmatisms can make your vision blurry and negatively impact night vision and driving. If lights appear fuzzy, streaky, or are surrounded by haloes while driving at night it can make navigating the roads after dark tricky.
If you think you have astigmatism and notice that you’re having trouble seeing properly at night, book an appointment with your eye doctor. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, you may need to update your prescription and if you don’t wear corrective lenses, it may be time to start.