DriveSafe lenses by Carl Zeiss
I drive at night a lot, usually long periods on highways travelling between Phoenix and Southern California and then up to Northern California. The generally puts my total driving time for a long weekend around 2,000 miles, which I plan in such a way that almost all of it is at night when the roads tend to be less crowded but bright lights more frequent.
For anyone that has driven that route (or any route frequented by long-haul trailers and other large trucks), the annoyance of intense headlights are real and the threat they pose to safe driving at night should not be casually dismissed. Many a time I have been unable to see the road in front of me because the blinding white light that might have made the road easy to see for the vehicle coming toward me was robbing everyone driving the other direction of their night vision.
See, when you are in a low light environment for an extended period of time, a change happens within your eyes that essentially turns off the cones (photoreceptors responsible for color vision and greater visual acuity) and makes the rods (photoreceptors responsible for dark-adaptation and movement tracking) more active. The adaptation period for rods takes about 30 minutes to reach its peak performance; in order for this to happen light levels must be low enough to allow the biological changes within the eyes to occur.
Exposure to bright lights cause a dark-adapted eye to reverse the biological changes that allow for night vision and resets the timer for peak night vision to be reached. The most frequent cause of this, for most drivers, would be headlights from oncoming cars.
Zeiss promises that their new DriveSafe lenses can combat this problem for drivers. With a one-of-a-kind lens designed to provide optimal vision in the areas drivers need it the most (distance, dashboard, center console and mirrors) combined with a lens treatment specifically designed to absorb the intensity of HID and HED headlights (they worked with fellow global leader Hella Lights) and their latest anti-reflective/anti-scratch treatment the DriveSafe lenses, both single vision and progressive, are one of the most innovative offerings in the realm of mainstream eyewear to be offered since the first anti-reflective coating became available to consumers. Assuming of course that Zeiss delivers on this promise.
Which is exactly what I planned to determine the moment my pair of DriveSafe lenses were ready.
With my new lenses (I used an old pair of frames I already owned) I waited for night to fall before I set out on the road. I wanted to get a good mixture of surface street, highway driving and rural road driving to get diverse exposure to headlights. I headed out east on Broadway, hopped onto the 60 going further east and finally took 79 to Florence. This route ensured a good amount of driving and a variety of light exposure between busy city streets, freeway traffic and a long dark highway frequented by truckers, military vehicles and law enforcement. And the ever present Arizonan driving a lifted truck armed with enough lighting pointed at the road to be seen from space.
In all I drove for around two hours, no need to rush the drive since I wanted to get as much artificial sun through my windshield as possible. In all reality however, I learned what I needed to know within 10 minutes of getting on the road. As I drove down Broadway I passed two Mesa police SUVs that had a car pulled over in a parking lot right off of the road. Since this is a regular occurrence I prepared to shield myself from the harsh display of red and blue lights that seem to be the official colors of both Mesa and Tempe, then I remembered I had special lenses on and decided to risk the blindness the lights threatened me with.
Without hesitation I was past the swarm of lights and I could still see the road ahead of me, there was no need to follow the lead of the car in front of me as I waited for my night vision to return, the DriveSafe lenses had saved me from even a fraction of a second of blindness, I’d lost nothing.
I was impressed but I needed to know that the lenses would deliver what Zeiss promised.
My next trip up to Northern California became the big test, I was already impressed with the DriveSafe lens but needed to know that I wasn’t imagining the benefit from a single night of testing. So a few weeks later I made the nearly 800 mile trip at night. And 48 hours later a return trip going a different route.
The experience was everything I was told it would be and more than I expected. Over 1,600 miles of driving total, I never had to deal with the harsh lights of oncoming traffic, people behind me that were failing to turn their high-beams on, law enforcement on the side of the road with their multi-colored strobe lights, or even the freight trains I encountered on the drive home through Needles.
Each and every time I braced myself for a period of night-blindness from these driving obstacles I was amazed to find that not only could I keep my eyes on the road as they got closer and closer to me, but that once they had passed the road ahead of me was still perfectly visible and I was able to drive safer than I had even been able to before on these roads.
Not only did the DriveSafe lenses by Zeiss make the driving experience more comfortable and relaxing, but they made the drive safer for both me and the people around me on the road.
From now on, I make sure to pack my DriveSafe glasses on every trip I take and they’re in my hand every time I venture outdoors when the sun is down. I’d recommend these lenses to anyone that has had the experience I’ve had of dealing with intense glare at night, even if you don’t need a prescription these glasses will improve your drive and make it a safer event for everyone.