I was long overdue a visit to the opticians, and had also been promising myself since my last visit that this time I would pay for Hoya’s En Route lenses, which are designed to reduce light scatter and glare from oncoming headlights at night.
Loads of people are uncomfortable with night driving. I’ve always been kind of okay with it, though the advent of halogen and then LED headlamps has made life difficult for everyone. I tend to think we should go back to the good old days of dim headlights. We’d all be happier, and maybe drive a bit slower at night. I often follow behind a car being driven by someone who is clearly terrified, slowing down every time another vehicle is coming towards them, and generally showing all the signs of timidity and hesitancy. But most people don’t even know these lenses are even available.
I’ve known about Hoya’s En Route lenses for a while, but had no idea whether they’d really work, or if it was just a gimmick you pay extra for and don’t see the benefit of. You don’t see reviews of them. The only way to find out was to pay for them. And I was lucky, because there was a special offer, and it turned out that my new glasses ended up costing a couple of hundred pounds less than they usually do. For the record: I always pay for the thinnest lenses with an anti-reflective coating, so my specs always cost a small fortune.
Hoya’s En Route don’t actually go down to the thinnest and lightest level of all, but they offer a lens which isn’t too thick and heavy and is a progressive varifocal, allowing you to shift focus between close and distance (as you’d expect), and that tricky middle ground where your car’s instruments and display screens are.
But the real test of these lenses was obviously going to be driving at night. And the recent Christmas break was a perfect opportunity, involving as it did a 12-hour overnight drive to France. What I thought was, I might be able to kid myself for an hour or so, but if these lenses were no good, I could hardly keeping lying to myself for 12 hours.
The good news is, they do seem to work. I drove a thousand kilometres, at night, through clear air, through fog, and through rain, and at no point was I bothered by too-bright headlights coming towards me. And I promise you: I usually am, and I usually complain about it. I’ve tried everything: looking slightly away, closing one eye, squinting, etc., but for the whole of this journey I was fine. I was aware of oncoming vehicles; I was even aware that their lights were bright; but I didn’t feel blinded or unsafe at any time.
Honestly, I’m as surprised that they work as you are. I actually feel sorry for people who don’t have to wear glasses.