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By Justin Pritchard
Your eyes are the most important feature in your vehicle. No manner of electronics, radar technology or advanced engineering can replace your eyes as the No. 1 safety system at your disposal.
Ensuring your eyes can do their job properly at all times by protecting them from strain and fatigue helps maximize your safety as a driver, and keeps those peepers performing optimally at the wheel.
The easiest way to ensure maximum performance from your vision is to give your eyes a helping hand — by protecting them with a set of quality sunglasses or driving glasses every time you go outside during the day, and at all times while you’re driving. Wearing them on cloudy days is a good idea too, since most of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate overhead cloud cover.
Drivers who squint and struggle in the dazzling winter sun can’t see comfortably. Squinting and straining for long periods results in discomfort, fatigue, and stress — three things that make it more difficult to focus on the road ahead, and to use your eyes to help stay aware of your surroundings.
Remember: stress, discomfort and eye fatigue at the wheel can be a killer. I recently talked to driving safety expert Carl Nadeau about how stressed-out and uncomfortable drivers tend to have very poor reflexes when it comes to car control. We talked about how taking a few steps to make sure you’re calm and comfortable at the wheel can make driving much safer.
The Coles Notes? When a driver is comfortable, they can collect information more easily about the motoring environment around them. An informed driver tends to be a more relaxed driver. A more relaxed driver tends to be a safer driver. Taking steps to ensure a comfortable and stress-free drive is a really good idea that could save your life.
With a quality set of shades, your eyes don’t need to engage their squinting in self-defense when it’s too bright to see. With quality lenses covering your eyes, incoming light and colours are honed and filtered. Damaging UV rays are blocked. Dull, low-contrast colors are muted, and harsh reflections are virtually neutralized. You can actually feel your face and eyes relax. It’s like switching from a high-definition television set to something with 4K technology: everything looks more pronounced and vivid, and you’re able to see clearly and comfortably with less effort.
Quality driving glasses eliminate the need to squint, meaning drivers can see more comfortably, more of the time. With less straining and discomfort, it’s easier to focus on the road and the motoring environment around you.
By dramatically enhancing a driver’s ability to see comfortably, driving glasses can make it easier to see detail further away, make it more comfortable to glance around while performing mirror checks, and can even fend off headaches.
As an added bonus, remember that protecting your eyes all day means they’ll be fresher and more alert in the evening—whether you’re still at the wheel and driving into darkness, or at home relaxing.
Personally, I make sure to use my driving glasses all day if I’ll be driving in the evening, too. That’s because your eyes are in far better shape for after-dark driving if they’ve been comfortable all day, rather than strained all day. Quality driving glasses immediately make your vision more comfortable, which makes you more relaxed, and makes your drive safer. Just remember that super-cheap sunglasses may do more harm than good — so stick with a pair you like from a quality brand you trust.
If it’s in your budget, consider a set of polarized lenses. These offer benefits similar to the ones I mentioned above, but are also more effective at cutting glare from bright reflective surfaces common in your driving environment, like wet road surfaces, or snow. A set of driving glasses with thin, aviator-style arms mounted high on the frames blocks less of your peripheral view during lane-change checks, too.
A quality set of driving glasses is a good investment. Protect yours by keeping them in a secure case when not in use, and cleaning them only as directed by the manufacturer. Some drivers prefer to leave a set of dedicated driving glasses stored in their vehicle, stored away in their case or pouch, where they’re safe from scratches and other hazards. That way, they’re always on hand and always ready to protect and enhance your vehicle’s two most important safety features.