Keep Your Tactical Edge in Low Light Situations

July 22, 2020

Stats show that the vast majority of officer-involved shootings occur in low light conditions.

With that, it’s critical to remember that healthy night vision is one of the most important tools you can have in situations like that. Being able to quickly and clearly make out objects in darkened surroundings can make the difference between staying safe and being injured or killed.

In interviews with Calibre Press, several nationally respected optometrists offered suggestions for simple but effect things you can do to improve your night vision. One of them, Dr. Merrill Allen, who at the time of the interview was a noted Professor of Optometry at Indiana State University, explained that one of the best ways to improve your night vision is to improve the circulation in your eyes. He suggested trying these four easy exercises several times a day to help with that:

1. Blink as many times as possible for a couple of seconds.

2. Look as far right, left, up and down as possible. The, rotate your eyes in a circle, both clockwise and counterclockwise.

3. Squeeze your eyes closed and hold for a few seconds. Repeat several times.

4. Once a day for about 15 minutes, close your eyes and put a heating pad or warm towel over them.

Dr. Allen also suggested supplementing your diet with a daily supply of blueberries or Bilberry Extract, which is generally available at health food stores. “It doesn’t take much and it makes a big difference,” he said. “These have been used since World War I to improve night vision.” He also recommends taking 500 mg. of Taurine capsules, an amino acid also available at health food stores, daily and eating fish, particularly shellfish, once a week.

Dr. Rick Puente, a New York Optometrist who at the time of the interview was on the Advisory Panel for one of the leading eye care groups in the country, recommended avoiding bright light before entering a darkened area, including the interior of a patrol unit that’s illuminated by white lighting. “If possible, having the interior illumination of patrol cars changed from white to red will assist in partial adaptation, thus improving night vision,” he said. If that’s not possible, avoid turning your interior light on before exiting the vehicle to enter a darkened area.

Optometrist Dr. Teri Rule suggests that if you wear glasses, have an anti-reflective coating applied to the lens. “This can be done at any vision center,” she said, “and will reduce glare and enhance night vision.” Adding a light tint, preferably yellow- or brown-based, will also cut down on glare and increase clarity.”

All three agree that regular eye exams and keeping prescription eyeglasses and contacts up to date is extremely important for ensuring the best possible night vision. “Even the slightest eye problems will show themselves at night and negatively affect your vision,” Dr. Puente cautioned. “Police officers definitely need to keep their prescriptions up to date!”

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