Headlights getting brighter, causing problems for drivers

If you drive at night often and feel like everyone has their brights on lately, they probably don't. Those are just regular headlights, which seem to get more blinding by the day.

"Definitely headlights are getting brighter and brighter and it's as the technology progresses. We have gone from the sealed beam headlamp to xenon high intensity discharge lamps, halogen lamps and now LEDs," said Robert Sinclair Jr with AAA Northeast.

Sinclair tells us car manufacturers are making lights brighter, in large part so that drivers can see better in low-light conditions. But it also comes at a cost for the drivers in oncoming traffic.

"In our area SUVs are extremely popular. The number one market in the country for sport utility vehicles is the Tristate region. Those vehicles have higher ride height, that means the lights are going to be higher and they're going to be in your eyes, particularly if you're in ongoing traffic in a smaller, say economy vehicle," said Sinclair.

Dr. Prachi Dua, an phthalmologist at Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital says she's not at all surprised to hear about the increasingly bright head lights. In fact, she tells us more and more patients have been coming to her office complaining about difficulty driving at night.

"The light can become very distracting because it tends to scatter on the retina," said Dr. Dua.

The doctor also explains how an aging population doesn't help with nighttime driving conditions. As people get older, they have a slower recovery time for their vision to return to normal after being exposed to bright lights. There's also an increase in cataracts as people age, making it tougher to tolerate headlights.

"Cataracts basically is the yellowing of our natural lens. We're all born with a clear lens, but when we grow older there's a breakdown of natural proteins," added Dr. Dua.

Federal regulations limit headlight brightness, but it's not easy to enforce. According to AAA, headlights may not be getting any dimmer, but companies are trying now to alter how the light is diffused.