Yellow Lenses for Night Riding

Historically, night riding has presented unique issues for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Yellow Lenses for Night Riding

Yellow Lenses for Night RidingDuring the day, the sun illuminates the entire world around you; at night, artificial light sources such as street lamps and the beam cast by your single motorcycle headlight simply cannot compete. One common solution to help improve night vision is to use a pair of glasses, prescription or non-prescription, which feature yellow lenses.

There is, however, much debate over the effects of yellow lenses and their true usefulness at night. As polarizing as it controversial, this debate often sees both sides offering many first-hand observations and little scientific proof as to the validity of their claims. Let’s examine both sides, and start by examining just what it is that yellow lenses do.

A yellow or amber tint serves to make optimum use of low levels of light. The color is known to demonstrably sharpen contrast and depth perception, especially when light is at a minimum. In direct sunlight, yellow offers little by way of protection, but in ambient light it performs exceedingly well. That’s because blue light is the primary light source during dusky, gloomy conditions, and yellow lenses filter out blue light. Because amber or yellow tints take full advantage of all available incoming light, they allow you to see as well as possible when darkness approaches at dawn, falls at twilight, and hides behind cloud cover on overcast days.

Amber shades are also good at cutting down on glare. This is primarily useful under sunlit, daytime conditions, but also serves a purpose at night; when sudden, bright flare-ups of glare – such as the headlight beams (especially high beams) of oncoming cars and trucks – hit amber lenses, the level of glare- and anti-reflective protection is greater than it would be if the motorcyclist was wearing clear lenses.

The argument against yellow lenses at night has more to do with complete darkness than low-light conditions. Yellow performs well under all low-light daytime, and admirably during over-lit nighttime conditions, but full darkness is another issue entirely. Because any tint cuts down on light transmittance, yellow lenses may actually limit vision on exceptionally dark roads. According to the Sunglass Association of America, “So-called night driving glasses are generally amber-tinted eyewear meant to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights. While they may make the driver feel more comfortable, they also reduce the wearer’s visibility of the darker portions of the roadway.”

Shop Motorcycle Glasses with Yellow Lenses

The decision, ultimately, rests with you, and the type of lens color with which you feel comfortable. My research into the matter leads me to endorse the use of yellow lenses at night…with certain provisos. At dusk, dawn, or on well-lit roads, yellow appears to be the clear – no pun intended – winner. The filtering of blue light, reduction of headlight and streetlight glare, and efficient use of all available light make yellow lenses more useful than no tint at all. If, however, your night riding frequently takes you to dark, unpopulated areas or roads with few cars or little artificial lighting, stick with clear lenses.

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