At BMWBLOG we test a ton of cars and every now and then we do a product review. The past few weeks we have been testing ZEISS DriveSafe Lenses. Vision is the most important sense a driver needs and for those of us that require corrective lenses to drive, there is a new lens on the market to help drivers see better in both normal and poor visibility conditions. The ZEISS DriveSafe Lenses are a lens with specialized optics that allow the driver to see better in poor light conditions, such as night time, fog and rain. After wearing them daily for the last few weeks in varying conditions, I’ve come away clearly impressed.
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One of the worse conditions a driver who wears corrective lenses can experiences is at night in the rain. While testing out the ZEISS DriveSafe lenses, I was out in our long-term BMW i3 tester and got caught in a torrential down pour at night. When I say torrential downpour, I mean cars-spinning-off-the-interstate-and-pulling-over kind of torrential downpour. Fortunately, I had both my old pair of glasses and the new DriveSafe lenses in the i3 to compare. I would switch back and forth and found that not only were the DriveSafe lenses were better at decreasing the glare, but since my eyes were not fighting the glare I could see more detail in the dark.
I had expected the difference would be rather subtle but instead was amazed at the difference. When wearing my old pair of glasses, I would notice star patterns around bright stoplights and headlights. But not only was there a round circle of light around the lights but there were streaks of light coming from the center at roughly the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock position. As the road was completely soaked there was a lot of glare off the road surface ponding too.
When I would put the glasses with the DriveSafe lenses on, the headlights of oncoming cars and traffic lights just had light emanating from their centers. Gone were the starburst flares coming off the light’s center. As there was less glare, my pupils would not constrict as much and was better able to see areas around the lights in more detail now. With my old glasses the light coming off of the ponding seemed to triple the light intensity coming at me. With the DriveSafe glasses on I could still see the light reflection of the water on the road but was less distracting with less glare.
Just last month a caution from the American Medical Association, came out that a new and growing source for glare at night is distracting drivers and pedestrians alike. Though new LED street lighting has tremendous energy saving benefits, it’s been causing an unintended consequence of serious glare, compared to conventional lights. This especially true with blue-rich LED lights, which “decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard.” Although I didn’t experience any LED lampposts, I did drive past LED headlights at night and found the DriveSafe lenses to temper their glare.
The reason glare causes so much problems for those of us wearing glasses is that it amplifies the amount of light reaching your eye. This causes pupils to constrict more from dazzling light so less light gets in and then it has to dilate back out to accommodate to the low light conditions. The specialized coating ZEISS has put on their DriveSafe glasses helps prevents glare, as they proved through rigorous testing with headlight manufacturer HELLA.
When I was fitted for my ZEISS glasses, the optometrist used a ZEISS i.Terminal which precisely measures pupil distance. The i.Terminal also measures for seg heights for bifocals or progressive lenses. ZEISS custom lenses makes driving safer for each specific user.
Downsides? Not really many, just you need to realize that DriveSafe lenses are not sunglasses and won’t protect you from sun and don’t replace sunglasses. You can though, have a sun-activated tint called PhotoFusion applied in addition to the ZEISS DriveSafe coating.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the cost of the ZEISS DriveSafe lenses were comparable to other prescription lenses with coatings. Everyone’s eye insurance is different though, so check with your local optometrist.
Real Life Experience
Though DriveSafe glasses are specially tuned for driving, they can be worn all day. I use mine as my every day glasses as the clarity of the optics are excellent. ZEISS DriveSafe’s specialized coating decreases glare from LED and halogen helping minimize halos, yet the coating is imperceptible. During daily wear, I could tell they were very high quality lenses and functioned perfect for me. In fact, I think this is where the greatest benefit lies. You don’t need another pair of glasses to have just for driving. These work great for daily, and still expertly function to decrease glare from driving in snow, fog, rain and at night. The next time you need new prescription glasses look for a ZEISS optical shop.
I know that next time I need a pair of glasses, I’ll get the ZEISS DriveSafe version, they are just that much better and have no downsides for corrective glasses wearers like myself.
Disclaimer: Zeiss provided the custom glasses for this test.