What is glare?
Does wearing contact lenses cause glare? Glare happens when too much light enters your eye and interferes with your eye’s ability to manage it. Scientifically, glare is “the loss of visual performance or discomfort produced by an intensity of light in the visual field greater than the intensity of light to which the eyes are adapted”. Those who suffer from it can find it distracting and even dangerous in certain situations. There are four types of glare: distracting, discomforting, disabling, and blinding. Distracting glare usually happens when you are driving at night, and you experience seeing ‘halos’ around streetlights. Discomforting glare occurs when the sunlight is too bright, and it makes you squint your eyes. Disabling glare usually happens to the elderly concerning cataract formation, while blinding glare results from light reflecting from smooth, shiny surfaces such as water, sand, or more commonly- snow, causing temporary blindness as it blocks vision.
What causes glare?
Glare usually happens in the daytime and is a normal response to bright lights but can signify deeper problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or other eye diseases. Occasionally, your surroundings may cause glare. For example, if you are driving while you face the sunset or if you look at a snow-covered field on a bright sunny day, you may see spots of glare. Other instances include laser pointers shined in your eye and camera flashes that leave temporary images in your vision, called flash blindness. However, these glares fade away on their own. You should always consult a medical professional to identify or rule out any eye diseases.
Can glare be treated or avoided?
For mild cases, you can take simple steps depending on the cause of why you are experiencing glares. The solution could be as simple as wearing polarized sunglasses, or installing a vehicle visor to protect your eyes. If you are consulting an eye doctor, you could consider lenses that help reduce glare and correct eye problems. For older folks, you can consider getting rid of cataracts if your doctor advises doing so.
Why am I experiencing glare in contact lenses?
Some contact lens users have claimed to experience glares or halos around lights at night and even instances of seeing ghost images. If you are experiencing glare when driving at night, this could be due to your dilated pupil. Your pupil becomes larger (dilated) to allow more light in causing the pupil to be more dilated than the optical area of your soft lenses or your rigid lenses themselves (known as spherical aberration), which leads to glare around lights.
You may not experience this while wearing glasses as they may come with an anti-reflective coating that blocks some of the glare. However, seeing a rainbow around lights may indicate a more severe issue, such as the swelling of the cornea (corneal edema), which suggests that the lenses have been in too long and should be removed.
Wearing contact lenses properly while practicing disciplined prescribed contact lens care does not cause glare. However, if you are still experiencing glare while wearing contact lenses, or you find yourself experiencing glare only after wearing contact lenses, please consult an eye care professional.
In addition, you may need to check for signs of astigmatism or look into your practice with contact lens care and wearing habits to make sure you are cleaning your lenses correctly and not overwearing your contact lenses.