Side Effect: Difficulty driving at night

Ever driven at night without your glasses or contacts?

It’s not as fun as it sounds. Growing up in a small town in the north of England, I would frequently make trips to and from my parents house into the city.

The problem was at the time, as with many teenagers who’ve just passed their driving test, I was very eager to drive, and very careless with my glasses.

One night, after already being late and searching every room in the house, I rashly decided to leave without them. Now I was still legally able to drive without my glasses, but the bright lights, winding country roads, and dimly lit street signs made things a little more interesting. Everything was going fine until one poor pheasant chose the wrong car to play chicken with.

I felt so bad afterwards—although not as bad as the pheasant—that I vowed to never drive with less than perfect vision again. Thankfully, that didn’t mean I had to always remember where my glasses were, as only a few months later my vision had soon stabilised and I was eligible to have Laser Eye Surgery.

So when I heard from a friend that a common side effect of Laser Eye Surgery was difficultly driving at night, you can imagine how I felt. But it turned out all the drama was in vain. The night time side effects of Laser Eye Surgery are actually mild and manageable, and can even be reduced in the right hands.

Why do we experience night time effects?

No matter your age, prescription, or individual experience of the procedure, you will have night time side effects following Laser Eye Surgery.

Immediately post surgery your eye sets into recovery mode, working to reduce swelling from the procedure and to adjust to its new shape.

During this process, you may see glare around bright lights—hence the trouble with driving at night. For some this glare can come in the form of ‘halos’ and ‘starbursts’. Halos are the soft rings which appear around light sources, and starbursts describe the glowing like effect you see when looking at lights.

Halos and starbursts tend to last for a several months at most, and for many people just a few weeks. The most important thing is to remember if you experience them is that they are nothing to worry about—it’s a healthy sign of your eye and body responding and recovering from the surgery.

In this short video Mr Glenn Carp explains a little more about night time effects:

A few ways to minimise the chances and effects of night glare

As the amount of swelling correlates to the amount of damage caused during the surgery, it is possible to minimise the chances of night time side effects.

The first thing to look for is a clinic with a comprehensive screening process. This is arguably the most important stage of the surgery. Here, the surgeon analyses your vision, determines if any complications are likely to occur, and adjusts your treatment plan as necessary.

But if it’s already past that stage and you are experiencing halos and starbursts, there’s also a few things you can do to help manage them. If you feel the night glare is excessive, it’s possible the surgery did not change your eyes enough, or your pupils are dilating beyond the area treated during the procedure. Whatever the cause, some people find leaving the overhead light on while driving can help lesson its effects. There’s also the possibility of using medicated eye drops to stop your eyes from dilating too much.

Check out the top 10 questions we hear from patients about the procedure and its effects.

If you would like to book a consultation at London Vision Clinic, or find out more about the night time effects of Laser Eye Surgery, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005