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Experts say new, brighter headlights can actually hurt your vision

Posted: 8:45 AM, Feb 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-15 08:45:55-05

If you've ever driven past another vehicle and thought the headlights were too bright, you're not alone - and experts say you're probably right.

Headlights in newer vehicles are changing, and the newer, brighter lights can have a negative impact on your sight.

The new headlights don't just have brighter bulbs, they actually use LED bulbs instead of the traditional halogen ones that vehicles have used for years.

The LED bulbs are brighter and bluer than the older ones.

"Those headlights coming at you can be blinding," said ISP Sgt. John Perrine. "That will affect your night vision."

READ | Experts talk impacts of LED headlights on your vision

It isn't just newer vehicles, auto owners are replacing their headlights with the newer, brighter bulbs as well because they let you see more of the road. But for other drivers, those bulbs can actually be dangerous.

Some drivers complain they see glares from the brighter bulbs and some have even claimed to experience temporary blindness from them.

"I'm always kind of worried that if there's an animal - or god forbid, a kid or human walks out in front of you - you might not see it in time, because the lights are blinding," Sgt. Perrine said.

Eye doctors, like Tom Chester with the Cleveland Eye Clinic, are also concerned about the effect the new lights can have on your vision.

"It creates discomfort, it can create irritation. It causes you to want to shy away from it," Chester said. "As a result, it can cause a lot of reflexes to kind of close the eye, dim the eye and look away."

So what can you do to stay safe when your vision is impacted by the bright headlights?

"As that car approaches, kind of look past hte light or off to the side so you're not looking directly into those lights," Sgt. Perrine said. "Another option is to close one eye. By closing, you will preserve your night vision in that one eye. That way, as the bright light passes you, you open that eye back up and your focus will come back much quicker on that dark road."

Experts say the new lights are at least 25 percent brighter than normal bulbs, but when it comes to lights that are too bright, Indiana law doesn't really address the issue.

The laws only say that your headlight has to illuminate 100 feet in front of your vehicle - or 350 feet for high beams.

If you purchase after-market headlights, be careful, some of them are actually illegal in Indiana. State police say you can get a ticket for headlights that are any color other than white or amber.

Regarding those bright LED lights on new cars that look blue, Sgt. Perrine says those are okay as long as they come from the manufacturer.