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Struggle with Depth Perception When Driving? Try These Tips

By Essilor News

It's night. You're driving. Something is coming toward you. But squint as you might, you can't quite tell just how far away it is.

If you struggle with depth perception while driving, especially at night, it can be pretty scary. But there's good news: There are ways to improve your vision to make it a safer, less stressful experience.

So check out our brief guide to improving depth perception behind the wheel. And find out why the problem might not be your eyes—it might be your car.

How does depth perception work?

Depth perception occurs when your brain combines pictures from both eyes into one 3D image. Depth perception is impacted when one eye is blurry or the eyes aren’t aligned, which can also cause suppression or double vision.

Use spatial clues

In addition to addressing any eye conditions, you can also develop your depth perception skills. That's because at longer distances the brain relies mostly on context clues to determine spatial relationships. Training yourself to identify these clues will enhance your depth perception and lead to a safer driving experience:

  • Motion parallax: Observe the relative speed of cars and other moving objects. Objects traveling at the same speed will appear faster when near and slower when far away.
  • Interposition: We can tell which object is closer or farther away based on how they overlap.
  • Aerial perspective: Color, contrast, and clarity (especially in regard to light) indicate how close or far something may be.  

Keep your car clean

Going to the car wash isn't just a matter of making your ride look sweet. When it comes to depth perception, it's also a matter of safety. Sure, most people realize that dirt on their windshield can hamper vision and lead to excess glare. But even a small amount of grime on your own headlights can significantly reduce their output, leading to reduced visibility at night as well as eye strain. Simply keeping your windshield and headlights dirt-free could make all the difference in the world.

Use your tools

Every car comes equipped with tools designed to help drivers fight glare and see better at night. But are you using these tools properly? Besides using your sun visor and dimming your rearview mirror, angling your side mirrors correctly can also diminish glare. And those headlights you just cleaned? You may want to have a mechanic check them to make sure they are set at the proper angle as well. A few small adjustments to your car could make a huge difference for your eyes.

Beware of night vision glasses

A big craze these days (at least, if you believe infomercials) is the use of special amber or yellow-tinted night vision glasses. But while these types of glasses can sometimes reduce glare, they accomplish this by diminishing the amount of light reaching your eye, meaning they can actually make it more difficult to see. Luckily, there's a safer solution: Instead of using night vision glasses, consult your eye doctor about getting anti-glare Crizal® lenses

See your eye doctor

Speaking of which, if you have persistent problems with depth perception, particularly at night, you should check with your eye doctor to make sure it isn't a symptom of a larger issue. For instance, decreased night vision is one of the early warning signs of a cataract. Or you may be battling a vitamin deficiency. Seeing your eye doctor might do more than just help your driving—it may just save your sight.