Supplier insight

Lenses designed for driving

Manufacturers on the products designed for motorists, and how to bring the topic into consultations with patients

A wing mirror of a car is visible driving down a busy road. The black and white image is a long exposure so the headlights of other cars streak across the image like light trails
Seiko Optical UK

The topic of vision and driving made headlines this year as the RAC called on the Government to commission an independent study on the issue of glare from car headlights.

Read more on the RAC research on OT.

With the public talking about glare, nighttime driving, and vision, it may be an appropriate time to highlight lenses and coatings designed with the needs of drivers in mind.

OT explored updates in the category and sought insight from manufacturers on discussing lens solutions with patients.

Identifying the issue

Speaking to OT, experts at Seiko suggested awareness of driving lenses as a category is still growing, led by conversations between practitioners and patients.

Michelle Lloyd-Bibb, professional services manager for Seiko Optical UK, suggested: “There is a high number of people walking into a practice that have probably identified that they have issues with driving. Whether that be quality of vision, or symptoms of glare. They may not be voicing it because they assume that is the way life is.”

Jonathan Cohen, commercial manager at Seiko Vision UK, added: “It is rare to have a patient walk into practice and say, ‘I want driving lenses.’ You uncover that need through open questions and then make the best recommendation.”

The company offers both single vision and progressive lens designs specifically tailored to motorists with Seiko Drive and Seiko Drive X.

The lenses are structured to provide edge-to-edge clarity supporting the peripheral vision of drivers. The progressive lenses also provide a focused area in the intermediate zone to support the view of the dashboard.

Describing the opportunity available for practices, Cohen noted: “The problem is well-defined. This is an easy category to introduce because the patient will understand the benefit straightaway.”

Lloyd-Bibb recommended using lifestyle questions to delve deeper into the needs of the patient: asking not just whether they drive, but how many hours they spend on the road, or the times of day that they tend to drive.

She said: “That gives me insight as a dispensing optician into how much of a priority a potential solution is going to be for them. Is it something that we can address with an anti-reflective coating? Does it require a solution from our drive-specific lenses?”

In addition to the driving lenses, Seiko offers the Road Clear Coat, which can provide an alternative solution for patients who perhaps don’t require a separate pair of specific lenses for driving. Lloyd-Bibb said: “If someone is driving and does experience difficulty, particularly for glare within nighttime driving conditions, instead of them having to commit to a dedicated pair for driving, they could have their usual design for full-time wear, with the benefit of the Road Clear Coat.”

Cohen explained that Seiko aims to support optometrists and dispensing opticians to “make a conscious effort to ask a lot of questions.”

Bolstering further awareness amongst patients of driving lenses as a category will come through recommendations from the practice team Cohen said, adding: “The recommendation between the testing room and the dispensing desk is where the magic happens."

Expanding availability

Essilor has recently made its Crizal Drive anti-reflective coating available with Eyezen and Varilux Comfort Max lenses.

Alan Pitcher, commercial director for wholesale lenses at EssilorLuxottica, explained that the move to extend the driving range was initially prompted by feedback from practices.

“We agreed it would help allow more patients to benefit from a better clarity of vision throughout the day and maximise their night vision to feel safer on the road,” he said.

The company suggests the lenses offer up to 90% less reflection at night, at 507nm “where eye sensitivity is the highest” compared to a lens with a hard coat.

This helps wearers experience a decreased sensation of glare and enhances visual comfort when driving.

Discussing how the topic of driving and vision can be brought into the conversation in practice, Pitcher suggested that driving can form part of the lifestyle conversation of ECPs with patients.

“This will help establish whether the patient struggles with glare and whether an anti-reflective coating such as Crizal Drive could be beneficial to offer greater clarity of vision on the road,” he said.

EssilorLuxottica has patient leaflets available for use as part of the conversation, including messaging around the benefits of the coating.

Driver requirements

Launched last year, Shamir Driver Intelligence features one set of lenses for day, ‘Sun,’ and another for night and low-light conditions, ‘Moon.’

The ‘Sun’ lenses incorporate a coating to reduce glare, while the ‘Moon’ lens is designed to compensate for the myopic shift experienced at night.

The ‘Moon’ lens features the Shamir Glacier Expression coating for improved contrast sensitivity.

Russell Bickle, general manager of Shamir UK, highlighted a survey by the manufacturer in 2016 of 59 participants that illustrated challenges experienced by drivers, particularly driving at night and in bad weather.

Bickle also pointed to a market research study of 1086 participants by Sanita Advisors in 2023, which found 48% reported visual concerns prevented them from driving at night. While 53% of participants had some form of primary digital display in their vehicle, 30% had trouble seeing the screens during the day, and 37% at night. Internal glare was reported by 35% of participants during the day and 46% at night.

As part of its investigation into the needs of drivers, Shamir formed a strategic optical performance partnership with BWT Alpine F1 in 2021, with feedback contributing to the development of Shamir’s driving lenses.

The partnership has enabled the manufacturer to gain direct insight from professional drivers on their visual needs on the track compared to ordinary roads.

Racing drivers Jacque Neveu and Alexander Gadois identified rainy and dark conditions as posing the greatest degree of difficulty.

In poor weather, the lights of competitors and track lights reflect in wet roads, while objects seem to change shape, and light ‘scatters’ on the windshield. This can create the risk of a driver misjudging distances and required speed, and affects decision-making, Shamir heard.

The drivers emphasised that eyewear solutions must provide accurate vision both in the centre and in the periphery for a wide field of view.

Discussing how the topic of driving lenses can be addressed in practice, Bickle recommended asking patients whether they experience eye strain, disturbing glare, a limited field of view, and trouble adjusting between viewing zones when driving.

Reassure patients that they are not alone in their experience, he added, and highlight that driving-specific lenses could be an option to help alleviate challenges, working through potential benefits the lenses can provide.

New to the scene

This February, Nikon Lenswear UK launched the SeeCoat Next Drive as part of its portfolio of advanced light management lens coating solutions.

The SeeCoat Next Drive features a Glare Reduction filter to reduce the effect of glare caused by oncoming headlights, streetlights, and other light sources in dim or dark conditions.

Nikon suggested the coating offers “superior vision in the light, providing the ideal solution for driving at any time of day or night.”

All SeeCoat coatings feature what Nikon described as “Diamond Booster technology,” a process which creates strong bonds between the topcoat and the nano-layers of coatings, strengthening and maximising the durability of the topcoat.

The new topcoat has an enhanced resistance against smudges and scratches, Nikon shared.

The AOP’s Don’t Swerve a Sight Test campaign will return this summer. Visit the website for more information and for ways to get involved.