Mar 5th 2024

Contact Lenses and Driving: Tips for Comfort and Safety on the Road

Contact Lenses and Driving: Tips for Comfort and Safety on the Road

We know how important your safety is while driving, so it is more crucial than ever to have clear, comfortable vision on the road. For many, contact lenses are the chosen device for their vision needs as they offer numerous benefits over traditional glasses, especially behind the wheel.

The Importance of an Up-to-Date Prescription

Driving is a responsibility that demands precision, quick reflexes, and clear judgment. At the heart of all these is vision. Every driver relies on their eyes to interpret signs, judge distances, and respond to sudden changes. Regular eye exams, therefore, transition from being just about health to being a cornerstone of road safety. As our eyes change over time, an outdated prescription might not just be a minor inconvenience but a significant hazard.

Distorted distances can lead to misjudgments in overtaking or parking. Blurred signs might result in missing a crucial direction or warning. When it comes to night driving, the challenges amplify. The dim light can make it harder to see, and an outdated prescription can exacerbate this difficulty. The result? Slower reaction times, potential oversight of critical warnings, and a heightened risk of mishaps. It's not just about seeing the road; it's about interpreting it in real time. Hence, ensuring that your contact lenses are up-to-date is paramount.

Choosing the Right Type of Contact Lenses for Driving

The world of contact lenses offers a variety of choices, each tailored to specific needs. For drivers, the choice becomes even more critical. Occasional drivers might find daily lenses perfect due to their convenience and reduced care routines. In contrast, those who spend long hours on the road, like truck drivers for example, might opt for extended-wear lenses, which can comfortably stay in the eyes for longer durations.

However, the lens type isn't the only consideration. The environment plays a role too. Daytime drivers, especially those driving in sunny conditions, can benefit immensely from UV-blocking lenses. Brands like Acuvue Oasys offer lenses with superior UV-blocking features, ensuring maximum protection against the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and reducing strain and potential damage. Night drivers face a different set of challenges. The glaring lights from oncoming traffic or streetlights can cause a halo or starburst effect, especially for those with certain vision issues. Here, lenses with anti-glare or blue light filtering properties come to the rescue, minimizing these effects and ensuring a clearer, more comfortable driving experience.

Maintaining Optimal Lens Moisture

Driving, especially on long journeys, can be a test of endurance, not just for you but for your eyes as well. The controlled environment inside a car, whether air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter, can significantly reduce the humidity levels, leading to faster evaporation of the tear film on your eyes. This can make your contact lenses feel dry and uncomfortable.

Blinking is a natural defense mechanism of the eyes to maintain moisture. However, the concentration required while driving can often reduce our blink rate. Making a conscious effort to blink more frequently can help in naturally lubricating the eyes. Directing car vents away from the face can also help in reducing the drying effect of the car's HVAC system. For those particularly prone to dry eyes, carrying lubricating eye drops can be a lifesaver. These drops, specifically designed for contact lens wearers, can provide instant relief. However, always ensure they are compatible with your lens type.

Driving at Night with Contact Lenses

The world takes on a different hue at night, and for drivers, it brings a unique set of challenges. The reduced light means our pupils dilate to take in more light, making us more sensitive to changes in brightness. This is where the glare from oncoming vehicles or streetlights can become a significant distraction. For contact lens wearers, this glare can be intensified if the lenses are dirty or smudged, leading to light scatter. Anti-glare lenses or those with specific coatings can be helpful in such situations, as they help reduce the halo effect around lights, making it easier to focus on the road.

Additionally, ensuring your lenses are thoroughly cleaned before nighttime driving can make a world of difference. Regular cleaning and proper storage can prevent deposits or smudges that exacerbate glare. It's also worth mentioning that a well-lit dashboard and clean windshield, both inside and out, can further enhance clarity and reduce reflections, ensuring that your night drives are as comfortable and safe as possible.

Handling Emergencies: What to Do if a Lens Dislodges While Driving

Experiencing a contact lens dislodging while you're behind the wheel can be disconcerting. The sudden blur or the feeling of the lens moving can be jarring, especially in high-speed scenarios, even a few seconds of impaired vision can be dangerous. The immediate reaction might be to try and fix it then and there, but it's vital to resist this urge. Instead, the first step should always be to maintain your composure. Panicking can exacerbate the situation. Signal appropriately and find the nearest safe spot to pull over, ensuring you're well away from the flow of traffic. Once you're safely parked, use your car's mirror to check and readjust the lens. If it's fallen out or is damaged, this is where having a backup plan comes into play. A spare pair of glasses, kept in your car, can be a lifesaver in such situations. This ensures you can continue your journey without compromising on vision.

Regular Breaks for Long Journeys

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Long drives can be mesmerizing, with good music and scenic landscapes. However, they can also be incredibly tiring, particularly on the eyes. Staring at the road, adjusting to changing light conditions, and the constant focus can strain the eyes, especially for contact lens wearers. It's essential to recognize the signs of eye fatigue; dryness, a burning sensation, or even blurred vision.

To combat this, make it a habit to take regular breaks. Every two hours or so, find a rest stop or a safe place to park. Step out, stretch your legs, and give your eyes a break. Removing your contact lenses, even for just a few minutes, can provide significant relief. It allows the eyes to breathe and rehydrate. These breaks not only ensure your eyes remain comfortable but also help in maintaining overall alertness and concentration, making your journey safer and more enjoyable.

Storing and Caring for Lenses on the Go

Being on the move often means adapting to different environments and situations. For contact lens wearers, this adaptability extends to the care and storage of their lenses. A compact, travel-sized lens care kit becomes an essential companion. This kit should ideally contain a small bottle of multipurpose solution, a lens case, and a mirror. It ensures that wherever you are, whether a hotel, campsite, or rest stop, you can manage your lenses effectively. Cleaning your lenses, especially after a long day of driving, can provide relief and ensure they're free from irritants.

Caution: However, it is important to note that the inside of cars can become incredibly hot, especially during summer. Such conditions can alter the efficacy of contact lens solutions, making them less effective or, worse, breeding grounds for bacteria. Always ensure your lens care kit is stored in a cool, shaded place, preferably not left in the car, to maintain the integrity of the solution and the safety of your lenses.

The Bottom Line

The freedom and clarity that contact lenses provide to drivers are undeniable. They eliminate the constraints of glasses, such as fogging or limited peripheral vision, offering a more unobstructed view of the world. But with this freedom comes responsibility. Ensuring that your prescription is up-to-date, your lenses are well-maintained, and you're equipped to handle any lens-related emergencies on the road is paramount. Regular eye check-ups are not just about ensuring clear vision; they're about overall eye health, which in turn contributes to safer driving.

By taking these few extra steps and precautions, contact lens wearers can confidently navigate the roads, enjoying the views and the journey, all while ensuring their eyes remain comfortable and most importantly, safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to wear contact lenses while driving?

Absolutely! It's 100% safe to wear contact lenses while driving. They provide clear, unobstructed vision and can be a comfortable option for many drivers

How can contact lens wearers ensure comfort during long drives?

To maintain comfort during extended trips, stay well-hydrated, use lubricating eye drops if needed, and take short breaks to rest your eyes and rehydrate.

Are there specific types of contact lenses ideal for driving, especially at night?

Contact lenses with high oxygen permeability and advanced optics can provide crisp vision, which is beneficial for night driving. Consult your eye care provider for recommendations.

What should contact lens wearers do if they experience discomfort or dryness while driving?

If discomfort or dryness occurs during a drive, it's essential to pull over at a safe location, hydrate your eyes with artificial tears, and blink regularly. If issues persist, consult your eye care provider

See Clearly
Alaesha Gaedke
Alaesha Gaedke

Alaesha Gaedke holds a M.B.A. from Franklin University Switzerland, and a B.A. in Public Relations from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. With her passion for the MedTech industry, her work explores the complexities of medical device technology; bridging the gap between the science behind Medical Devices and the audience for which they're designed for. Her work has been published in regulatory marketing material across Europe and the U.S.

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