​​5 Reasons Why It’s Difficult To See While Driving at Night

Driving at night is already full of hazards, but having an eye condition or disease can make it even worse. Whether it’s glare, halos, or another complication, you need to know what’s causing the problem and what you can do about it. To help you narrow down what’s making it hard to see while driving at night, we’ve compiled a list of the top five culprits.

Reasons Why It’s Difficult To See While Driving at Night

The top five reasons why it’s difficult to see while driving at night are:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Delayed dark adaptation
  • Complications from LASIK surgery
  • Poor nutrition

1. Cataracts

Cataracts are when the lens of your eye becomes cloudy, making you feel like you’re looking through frosted glass. They can make it difficult to see while driving at night, reading, or even seeing the expression on someone’s face. While they develop slowly, cataracts can become increasingly dangerous over time and require regular monitoring.

In most cases, cataracts are the result of aging and are perfectly normal. When healthy, the lens of your eye is crystal clear and allows for light to reach the retina and create the images you see. However, the proteins and fibers in the lens break down over time and, clump together, cloud the lens and prevent light from reaching the retina.

Most people start developing cataracts in their 60s but don’t require surgery until their 70s. However, there are cases where cataracts develop earlier and may also require surgery earlier than normal. Talk to our surgeons about your risks and options to determine what’s best for you.

Click here to read our blog about signs of cataracts and treatment options!

2. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can affect your vision in multiple ways, but the most common complication is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes causes an increase in blood sugar levels which can damage the blood vessels in the retina. 

This can be in the form of:

  • Swelling
  • Leaking
  • Scarring

These complications of diabetic retinopathy can make it difficult to see at night while driving. On top of that, you may also experience:

  • More floaters in your vision
  • Faded or washed-out colors
  • Diminished central vision
  • Diminished peripheral vision
  • Blank or dark spots in your vision

Talk to us if you have diabetes or any of these symptoms. We can create a treatment plan to protect your vision and overall health.

To read our blog on the stages of diabetic retinopathy, click here!

3. Delayed Dark Adaptation

One surprising cause of poor night vision is prolonged exposure to sunlight. Just two to three hours of bright sunlight can delay your ability to adapt to darker conditions, making driving at night much more dangerous. That’s why it’s important to have a quality pair of prescription sunglasses to make the transition from day to night much easier on your eyes and, ultimately, safer for you.

Prescription sunglasses help with more than transitioning from day to night. They also help protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer and other eye issues. Choose sunglasses that offer 99 – 100% UV-A and UV-B rays, or are rated at UV400 or higher. This ensures your eyes are protected and adapt to dark conditions more easily. Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical offers a wide variety of prescription sunglasses to meet your needs.

Click here to read our blog on why prescription sunglasses are worth it!

4. Complications From LASIK Surgery

Many people get LASIK surgery to avoid wearing glasses. However, what they may not realize is that the procedure can interfere with their night vision. While rare, LASIK may cause you to experience glare or see halos and starbursts around lights when driving at night. 

This can occur for a few reasons, such as:

  • Residual refractive error
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Corneal flap problems
  • Decentered ablations

Residual refractive errors occur when your cornea doesn’t respond to LASIK correctly by either over- or under-correcting the problem. The procedure can also cause enlarged pupils that expand beyond the treatment zone, allowing light to pass through and cause halos and glare.

LASIK works by creating a corneal flap to correct refractive errors, but sometimes the flap doesn’t heal correctly. These corneal flap problems can cause light to bend incorrectly resulting in night vision problems. Decentered ablations are caused by the laser not being centered above the pupil correctly, resulting in poor night vision.

5. Poor Nutrition

A lack of vitamin A and zinc can result in reduced night vision. These vitamins and minerals work together to support your retina, giving you clearer vision. The majority of Americans get enough vitamin A from food. Unfortunately, those with Crohn’s, celiac disease, or who have had gastric bypass surgery may not absorb it as easily as others.

Zinc actually supports vitamin A in your body, so it’s important to get it through food or with supplements. This mineral is found naturally in foods such as beef, poultry, beans, and nuts. By eating a well-balanced diet you can help protect your vision and make it easier to see while driving at night. You can also support your vision with zinc supplements to drive safely at night.

Are you having trouble seeing while driving at night? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

You can have difficulty seeing at night while driving for a number of reasons. Cataracts make it difficult due to clumps of proteins and fibers blocking light from the retina. Diabetic retinopathy can scar your retina, making it difficult to see. Prolonged sun exposure can delay your eyes’ ability to adapt to the dark. Complications from LASIK surgery can occasionally interfere with your night vision. You can also experience reduced night vision due to poor nutrition. 

Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving Knoxville since 2009. Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems and are committed to improving the quality of life in the Knoxville community through enhanced vision. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Thompson was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. His family has lived in the Hardin Valley area since 1998, and he graduated from Karns High School in 2004. Dr. Thompson runs Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical alongside his wife, Dr. Catherine Abbott.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
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