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Posted on 08-09-2016

First... HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with many good memories.  I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year 2016.  We have much to be grateful for, not the least of which is our good fortune to live in this wonderful country.  As I listen to the messages our presidential candidates bring to us 
​this election season, I am reminded of what Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

With the winter months in full swing, we are in that time of shorter daylight hours. Because of this, safe night driving becomes more critical in order to keep ourselves and others safe.  Along with more night time driving comes more automobile accidents.  Of course there are many factors that contribute to that statistic, but surely we can do some things to insure that our vision doesn't play a role.

Have you ever squinted your eyelids close together to help you see better?  Yes, that really does work, but who wants to go around squinting their eyes all the time to see clearer?  The same concept works in photography.  If you can make the aperture of your camera lens smaller, the depth of focus will be significantly increased which will result in a sharper photograph.  The downside to that is, less light enters the camera so you may end up with an under-exposed photograph.

The opposite occurs when the pupil (or camera aperture) becomes larger.  The light rays entering the pupil (or camera aperture) bend more, thus resulting in a less than sharp focus.  If your eye (or your camera) can adjust the focus "just right," the image will be clear, but if "the system" is off a bit (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism... ), you will begin to notice blur.  The darker the environment, the larger the pupil and the blurrier the image.  The lighter the environment, the smaller the pupil and the clearly the image.  THAT'S WHY GOOD LIGHTING HELPS YOU SEE, AND LESS LIGHT INCREASES BLUR.

Depth perception, the ability to distinguish color, and peripheral vision all suffer at night.  Nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, dry eyes, eye inflammations and or infections, presbyopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration and more... all make driving at night more difficult.  And, it typically becomes an even bigger problem as we age.

There are a few things we can do to help our eyes see the best they can at night.

     1. Make sure your windshield is clean, inside and out.  This reduces glare and can help you see as clearly as possible.
     2. Keep your headlights clean and properly aligned.  Headlight covers tend to yellow over time.  You can get a special headlight polishing kit to make them bright again or simply replace the covers with new ones.  Some car wash businesses provide a polishing service for a reasonable fee; ask the next time you have your car washed.
     3. Do NOT wear yellow lenses to try to reduce glare at night.  This was a fad a few years ago and does nothing to help your vision at night; it can actually make things worse.  Ask your eye care professional about anti-reflection coating for your eyeglass lenses.  You will notice a significant improvement in clarity and a reduction in glare with these coatings.  But keep in mind, like most other things, there are some very high quality coatings, and then others that are "bargain basement" and do not stand up to daily cleaning.  
     4. Dim your instrument panel.  By dimming your interior lights, it will make the outside lights appear brighter, allowing you to focus on the road.
     5. Make sure you visit your eye doctor every year and talk about any night time driving concerns you have.  Your doctor should know if you are having "issues" with nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, cataracts, dry eyes, eye inflammations and or infections, presbyopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or other eye anomalies that are "visually significant."  There may very well be ways to help make your driving more enjoyable and safer for you and others.

​As usual, I am interested in your comments.  Please write to me at Info@drcharm.com.
​I continue to enjoy hearing from you and answering your questions.  It's a pleasure to learn together.

Be well,
Dr. Charm

Anaheim Hills Family Optometry
​6200 E. Canyon Rim Rd., Suite 101
Anaheim Hills, CA 92807
(714) 998-2020

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