Driving Safety: Winter Sun

Julie Breen

When most of us think of sunglasses, we immediately think of hot sunny days, with the sun high in the sky and a lovely big pair of cool looking shades. Who doesn't like a nice pair of sunglasses?!

We wear them for fashion, but, hopefully, mostly for the protection we get from the sun. The tint reduces the light levels, usually by about 85%, so that we are visually more comfortable in the full glare of the sun. There is also an ultraviolet (UV) block on the lenses to protect us from the harmful effects of the UV light from the sun. We know that sunlight can cause cataracts, it can damage the retina at the back of the eye, it can damage the cornea at the surface of the eye; all sorts of undesirable effects that the UV block can stop. 

In winter though- particularly for drivers- the low sun and weather conditions can make things tricky at best, and at times downright dangerous. 

Just such a situation happened to me last year. I was driving to Scarborough from Middlesbrough in November and I needed to be there for work at 9am. It was a lovely clear morning, but there had been rain overnight and the roads were all wet. So at around the time the sun eventually rose, I was travelling across the North Yorkshire Moors, due east, looking right at the sun. It was.....scarily dangerous. The sun extremely bright and straight in my eyes, and then a reflection of liquid sun coming off the road which was absolutely blinding. 

In this situation, normal sunglasses would have been an improvement, but not by much, as reducing the light by 85% would still have meant a huge amount of light, both directly from the sun and reflected off the road, still causing a really dangerous situation. 

But I don't have normal sunglasses; my sunglasses are polarised.  What that means for driving is that the lenses, as well as being dark like you'd expect sunglasses to be, also eliminate reflected light. So all that 'liquid sunlight' reflecting off the road suddenly disappears, as well as the direct light from the sun being reduced by the tint and UV block. My really dangerous situation was now pretty OK, but by the look on the faces of the other drivers on the road that morning, they weren't anywhere near as comfortable as I was.

Personally, I wouldn't have any other type of lens for driving in the sun. And I'd always recommend polarising lenses to anyone who want's to drive in their sunglasses. 

At IntelliSight Opticians we offer a 20% driver's discount for anyone who wants to purchase polarising lenses for sunglasses. 

Pop in and see the large range of frames specifically designed to take sunglass lenses, or alternatively, have one of our regular frames and have the polarised lenses put in.