Every time we drive, our eyes are called on to do some heavy lifting: seeing in poor light, blinding sunlight, fog or on wet or reflective roads - not to forget the many other road users, signs and information they have to note. However, the right spectacle lenses can turn even long and frequent drives into pleasant and, most importantly, safe journeys. But what makes the ideal pair of driving glasses?
Spectacle lenses for driving are far more than a fashionable accessory: they help us see better, increase road safety, relax our eyes and protect against harmful radiation amongst other things. Studies have shown that many drivers have poor vision. It is one of the main causes of road accidents and a risk every driver can reduce easily. As a result, regular eye examinations by an optician and, if necessary, customised vision aids are essential for every driver. Experts recommend that adults have their eyes tested at least once every two years, even if they do not have any obvious problems with their vision. Even if you do not have existing or known problems with your eyes, eye examinations are recommended every 2-3 years for anyone over 40 and every 1-2 years for anyone over 65. This helps your optician diagnose the onset of presbyopia early.
Good vision when driving depends on a variety of factors. We have to be able to see without glare and reflections, but also clearly and with contrast at night. Another important point is the spectacle frames, which can block some areas of vision if they fit poorly or slip frequently if they are not held in place correctly. Starting at the age of 40, drivers may also suffer from the onset of presbyopia which gradually causes vision to deteriorate. The right spectacle lenses and well-fitted spectacle frames help with every one of these vision requirements. The ideal driving glasses provide effective protection against glare with an appropriate anti-reflective coatingand polarised or tinted lenses - for presbyopia, progressive lenses should accommodate typical shifts in focus while driving.
A number of light sources can affect our vision when driving such as bright sunlight, headlights, stray light from the street lamps and reflections on spectacles or the windscreen. Spectacle lenses without an anti-reflective coating can cause vision problems due to distracting reflections, for example on wet roads and oncoming traffic. This is an additional safety risk, even for drivers with perfect vision. Spectacle lenses with a special coating – such as the coating for DriveSafe lenses from ZEISS – are recommended for drivers who often have to drive at twilight and at night, as they provide the most relaxing and glare-free vision available.
Reflections, whether from metal surfaces or water on the road, can pose an additional risk with standard spectacle lenses, no matter what the season. The reflected light is routed in a specific direction and causes unpleasant glare. Polarising spectacle lenses offer additional safety in these situations. Polarisation filters the light, reducing the dangerous reflections wet roads or snow can produce. At the same time, a special tint for the spectacle lenses improves contrast and perception of colours. This allows you to see oncoming vehicles earlier and more clearly no matter what the visibility.
Please note that polarising lenses may impair your ability to see certain dashboard displays. It is best to check before purchase.
Certain tint colours can be particularly pleasant for driving. Brown or grey tints help you identify light signals like traffic lights or brake lights in milliseconds, indirectly increasing reaction times. Tip: tinted lenses with colour gradients give you a better view of the instrument panel, as they become brighter towards the bottom edge.
Whether you suffer from irritated eyes from heated air in winter or cutting headwinds in a convertible, there are many options to help you reach your destination without strained eyes, no matter what the weather. For example, certain frame types offer additional protection against dust particles or small insects. Plus: state-of-the-art lens coatings, a hard coating or DuraVision® Platinum or DuraVision® DriveSafe from ZEISS not only repel water and dirt but are much harder than previous solutions. They effectively protect spectacle lenses against scratches and other damaging environmental influences. Keeping your glasses in a case when you're not wearing them offers additional protection.
Do not leave your glasses in your car for long periods of time. High temperatures and temperature fluctuations can damage spectacle lenses.
Measurements conducted by the FKFS* Institute on behalf of ZEISS showed that we look at the road ahead and at oncoming traffic for an average of 97% of our overall driving time. Who would have thought the average would be so high? However, our eyes also have other tasks to perform: they need to rapidly shift focus between the side mirrors, the rear-view mirror and the dashboard. This is usually no problem for young drivers, but from the age of 35-40 onwards our eyes are no longer able to adapt, or "accommodate" as the experts say, to different distances as quickly as they could in younger years. We require special progressive lenses to overcome this obstacle. For driving purposes, the intermediate and distance zones of progressive lenses must be particularly large to enable us to refocus quickly when our eyes move between the road ahead and the dashboard with minimal head movement.
Progressive lenses can also be optimised for driving. The new lens design from ZEISS DriveSafe meets your driving needs and will give you a new feeling of confidence. The usual rule applies: the more exactly a lens is fitted to the wearer's needs, the more comfortable it is. Progressive lenses are like a tailor-made suit: they're so precisely fitted that the adaptation period is kept at an absolute minimum. Spectacles with DriveSafe progressive lenses are not just suitable for driving but are perfect for day-to-day use.
More people have problems seeing when driving at night and at twilight than in normal light. Vision aids designed for daytime vision, with smaller pupils, may not be sufficient. The i.Profiler® by ZEISS, a special eye measurement device based on the innovative wave-front technology, measures the eyes with wide-open pupils, similar to night vision situations. Then i.Scription® technology allows these measurements to be incorporated in the production of the spectacle lenses. You get spectacle lenses for sharper vision at night and safer driving along with better colour and contrast perception.
Spectacle frames makes an important contribution to achieving a perfect result. The frame and temples should be as slim as possible and join at the top edge. This prevents the spectacle frames from impeding the field of vision when driving. The larger the lenses, the fewer head movements are needed to check the rear-view and side mirrors. Spectacle frames with curved spectacle lenses help to reduce distracting incident light at the sides. The frames should also sit comfortably and securely on the nose to ensure that the glasses remain in place even during rapid head movements. Custom fitting is also the key here, otherwise you might suffer from headaches or eye pain – and not just when you wear your glasses for a long period of time.
Lenses optimised for your vision needs behind the wheel also make driving more comfortable – even in poor light conditions such as in rain, snow, twilight conditions or darkness. The feeling of glare from the headlights of oncoming traffic or the stray light from streetlights can be reduced. Special technologies and coatings make this possible.
Studies show that most people do not go to the optician until they notice that their vision is deteriorating. The problem is that vision loss occurs gradually, which means that you get used to it and do not notice this loss in vision until relatively late. At the same time, we often underestimate how much our vision can deteriorate in one year. While the ZEISS online eye test does not replace a visit to an optician or ophthalmologist, you can take it conveniently at your own computer and you'll know quickly whether a more in-depth sight test is necessary.
* Source: FKFS: The Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart is an independent foundation affiliated with the University of Stuttgart. The FKFS was founded in 1930 and has developed into one of the largest and most important research institutes in the automotive sector. It has achieved special prominence in the area of driving simulations and is an important partner of automobile manufacturers and suppliers.