The glare of car headlights could be a risk for heart conditions... As ... trends now

The glare of car headlights could be a risk for heart conditions... As ... trends now
The glare of car headlights could be a risk for heart conditions... As ... trends now

The glare of car headlights could be a risk for heart conditions... As ... trends now

Anyone who drives at night will know the terror of being suddenly blinded by powerful oncoming headlights — indeed 90 per cent of UK drivers complain that modern vehicle lights are particularly blinding.

So the news that the Government is launching a review this month into dazzlingly bright headlamps may bring welcome relief to many.

But tackling the problem of these lights could do more than improve road safety, suggest researchers: it might also reduce our risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and headaches, particularly in middle-aged or older drivers.

The move follows a campaign by the RAC and the anti-dazzle group, LightAware. In a recent RAC poll of 2,000 drivers, 85 per cent said headlight glare is getting worse. 

Official figures show bright headlights were a contributory factor in an average of 280 collisions on UK roads every year since 2013.

The government is tackling bright headlamps which could help reduce our risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and headaches, particularly in middle-aged or older drivers

The government is tackling bright headlamps which could help reduce our risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and headaches, particularly in middle-aged or older drivers

A couple blinded by headlight glare (Stock image) In a recent RAC poll of 2,000 drivers, 85 per cent said headlight glare is getting worse

A couple blinded by headlight glare (Stock image) In a recent RAC poll of 2,000 drivers, 85 per cent said headlight glare is getting worse

The RAC blames the introduction of more powerful, LED lights and the growing popularity of four-wheel-drive and SUV models, which sit higher on the road with lights that shine directly into drivers' eyes.

LED lamps also trick brains into seeing them as brighter than they are, thanks to the perceptional phenomenon 'contrast brightness', according to a study in the Journal of Passenger Cars — Mechanical Systems.

W hen motorists were placed in front of equally powerful LED and traditional headlamps, the LED group complained the lights were more blinding.

The researchers said this is because our brains assess brightness according to the contrast between a light source and the level of light around it. (A house lamp hardly seems bright by day, for instance, while at night it lights up the room.)

Because LEDs are small and send out tight-edged beams compared with loosely-focused traditional halogen-bulb headlamps, they create a harsher contrast with the darkness around them, making the light seem brighter, according to the 2005 report. Moreover, modern LED headlights are around twice as bright — 6,000 lumens compared with around 3,000 for halogens, Dr John Lincoln, a retired immunologist of LightAware, told Good Health.

This LED glare can cause stress that can damage our cardiovascular system, according to research by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

They found that glaring headlights could trigger worrying changes even in young, healthy people. In one study, involving 19 drivers under 40 who were subjected to five sudden bursts of strong headlight glare, one volunteer showed a

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