In a rant usually reserved for an outlet like Facebook, I am going to vent about sun glare. While driving the busy, congested roads of the New York City metro area, I am always amazed to see so many people drive without wearing sunglasses. I drive east during my morning commute and head west on my way home. That means a menacing sun on the horizon in both directions that can literally bring traffic to a standstill. And still, a lot of my fellow road warriors are not wearing sunglasses.
Older drivers are more likely to get involved in crashes if glare obstructs their vision, according to a study by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The research found 38.5% of drivers involved in crashes resulting from glare exposure were 45 years of age or older. That’s not to say younger drivers are immune—blindness from the sun results in just that, temporary blindness, and puts all drivers at risk for an accident.
Sun glare is more problematic during the fall and spring—around the time of the equinox—because that’s when the sunrise and sunset are due east and west, respectively. These periods of extreme sun glare pose a danger to motorists, but the hazard is really visible year-round. For instance, in the winter sunlight reflects off the snow, and the summer sun can reflect off a light-colored dashboard.
I know you are already asking your patients about their lifestyle habits. (Do they spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or on a mobile device? Do they spend a lot of time outdoors?) Maybe it’s time to ask about their driving habits. Do they wear polarized sunglasses when they get behind the wheel? Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to upsell them a pair of polarized ophthalmic sunnies for their daily commute—a benefit for both of you.