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Bright headlights aren't just annoying, they're bad for your eyes too...

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Often enough whenever we encounter the blinding high beams of an oncoming vehicle, we want to punch the driver in the face. It’s a common feeling among all drivers, particularly those who frequently take to the road first thing in the morning or at night. During the winters it just gets worse with fewer daylight hours and drivers having to keep their headlights on most of the time. Advanced technology on modern cars has introduced superior lighting power even to the average family car. Although it feels great to drive your car with super powerful lights, you put drivers of oncoming vehicles at risk. Ultra powerful lights have a blinding effect on them.

Eye experts would tell you the adverse effects of these piercing light beams. They actually impair the vision of an increasing number of oncoming drivers while in traffic. Age too causes the lens and cornea of the eye to become misty whenever bright light passes through them. The phenomenon is called ‘disability glare’. Studies reveal that it can take up to 10 seconds to recover from this condition. Police data reveals that accident investigators report ‘dazzling headlamps’ as an influence in 10 fatal crashes, almost 70 serious accidents and over 250 other accidents. The statistics are alarming.

As a preventive measure, one could use special clear glasses with a coating on the lens to absorb ultraviolet light and prevent glare during night driving, even if they don’t need prescription lenses. Another precaution is to keep the windshield clean from the inside and outside. Dirt causes light to refract affecting your vision. Lastly, it helps to ensure that your car headlights are correctly adjusted and the bulbs aren’t aged with use. It’s also important that you get your eyes tested at least once in two years.

Looking at what car manufacturers are doing, Ford is making significant efforts to make its latest family cars safer for owners and oncoming drivers alike. In their latest models, they have introduced the Glare-Free High beam that adjusts the light beam angle and intensity to one of seven settings according to speed, ambient light, steering angle, distance to the vehicle in front and windshield wiper activation. Others too are developing similar features. BMW first introduced Xenon, or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights to its 7 Series, something widely praised by users at the time for brightness and the associated reduction in driver fatigue. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were first fitted to the Audi A8 luxury saloon in 2004. Most modern cars now feature LEDs because they use less power than Xenon units, being compact they give greater freedom for styling body parts and they produce bright light. The other advantages are that you can manipulate the lights to adjust the pattern of the full beam to allow for oncoming traffic or pedestrians. They also last longer than any other form of light. High-intensity laser diodes fitted to the Audi R8 sports car light the road ahead when the driver selects the main beam pattern. Although lasers may offer twice the range of even the brightest LED bulbs, the diodes create a bright blue light that is damaging to the human eye. It needs to be filtered by phosphor converters to make it harmless. Audi hopes to combine laser lights with driver aids.

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