There are really two different questions here as there are very different needs for daytime driving compared to night time driving. I'll post a reply now regarding glasses for night driving, and will put together an answer about daytime driving glasses when I get a chance.
First, regarding driving at night. My suggestion is do NOT buy specially tinted glasses for your night driving. There are some companies that are promoting these so called "night driving glasses" that are typically lightly tinted amber / yellow colored tinted lenses with an anti-reflective coating. Many people believe that they can see better with these tinted lenses because the contrast is improved. The problem is that you actually reduce visual acuity in dark situations when you add a tint to the lenses. There is a very well written article on the Laramy-K Optical site that covers the problems of night driving glasses
very well. They have an excellent quote from the book "Forensic Aspects of Vision and Highway Safety” which states:
“Yellow ‘Night Driving’ lenses have been shown to provide no benefit in seeing ability at night. They are even hazardous, because they give the driver a feeling of seeing better, which no one has yet been able to explain. Studies have shown that they actually impair visual performance and retard glare recovery. Many promoters have made unfounded claims for the ability of amber to improve night vision. They have employed mass solicitation, usually by mail. The Federal Trade Commission has correctly ruled that such practices are illegal since the lenses do not perform as claimed.”
The visitor comments from that page are especially interesting. There are multiple people who posted their subjective benefits of yellow or amber tinted lenses at night. It is remarkable how passionate people are about this topic. One comment tries to discredit the above quote, saying the guy who made the statement was old, as were the studies the conclusions were based upon. I tried to find more recent studies without any success. I'm guessing the original studies were well done and that no one has been able to disprove them. If someone could show a superior eyeglass for night time, they could make a lot of money. People are already making a lot of money off of these night glasses, and that is what led to one person paying a large settlement to the Federal Trade Commission
($125,000) because he made what seem to be unproven claims.
There are several interesting discussion on Optiboard among eye care professionals. In this thread on polarized glasses for night driving
- one optometrist mentioned the Drivewear polarized darkening lenses seemed to work well at night. Dave Rips - President & CEO Younger Optics (maker of Drivewear) posted in that thread clearly saying the lenses are not for night use, and he believes that any tint, even light yellow, is bad for night driving, as is any polarized lens. I would think that if there were any studies to support the use of tints or polarized lenses for night driving, he would be the one to know.
The other threads there seem to all say mostly the same things - you want a clear lens with an anti-reflective coating. In some of the newer threads
there is mention of i.scription lenses. I haven't looked into this yet and so don't fully understand, but there is some suggestion that these specific types of lenses may have less problems with night vision. Again - the issue seems to be minimizing the problems of wearing glasses at night as opposed to something that actually improves your vision.
The one suggestion for dealing with bright headlights is to look at the white line on the side of the road so that you aren't looking directly towards the headlights.
The issue with driving at night is that you need as much light to get to your eye as possible in order to react. With any tint, even a light tint, you are reducing the amount of information that gets to your eye. The interesting thing is that these night glasses do make it seem like your vision is better, when it actually isn't. There actually has been one company fined by the Federal Trade Commission for claiming benefits from these types of night vision glasses, when there isn't any.
So - what other suggestions are mentioned from reliable sources that you can do to improve your night vision while driving? First thing - clean your windshield (and other windows)! This seems obvious, but I'm guessing most people haven't had the INSIDE of their windshield cleaned in a long time. You get a ton of distracting reflections off of the smudges on the inside if your windows, as well as the outside. As for glasses that can improve your night vision - actually - the goal of night glasses is to do the least harm. If you don't need glasses for driving, then you are best off to not wear glasses when driving at night. Glasses just add artifacts to natural light. If you have to wear glasses when driving, it is best to get a clear lens with an anti-reflective coating. The anti-reflective coating will reduce glare coming off of the lenses and also increase the amount of light that can get to the eye (relative to a normal lens without the anti-reflective coating).
Unfortunately, there are no magic eyeglasses that improve your night vision.
I'll hopefully have some time to get to suggestions on why certain glasses make better driving glasses during the daytime.