Powerful New Headlights Could Be Blinding Drivers Says Surgeon

Mon 28th Dec 2020

The sale of LED and Xenon car headlights should be better regulated says one of the UK’s leading eye surgeons, who believes that badly fitted lights could pose a danger on the roads.

Dr Ali Mearza, founding partner of the Ophthalmic Consultants of London clinic is not totally against the use of the high-tech lights, but suggests that retro-fitting older cars with the lights could lead to problems.

“From an engineering point of view, both LED and Xenon headlights have a clear advantage over conventional halogen bulbs – they’re much, much brighter,” Dr Mearza said.

"Factory-fitted LED and Xenon lights will of course be perfectly tailored to the weight and height of the car they’re being used in, not to mention road-tested to ensure they illuminate the road brightly but safely.

"However kits are also being sold online which allow the owners of older cars to swap their existing halogen lights for LED or Xenon lights. If poorly installed, the light beam produced will be angled too high, and will shine into the eyes of the drivers of oncoming traffic. Badly adjusted conventional headlights are bad enough, but the additional power of these new lights is the difference between dazzling and blinding.

“Even if it’s only for a few seconds, the consequences of driving while unable to see could be disastrous.”

Cheap LED and Xenon lights are now readily available to purchase online, but there is conflicting guidelines on whether consumers are able to fit their own lights, and what is legal or not. And while car headlights do get tested at an MOT there is little to stop a car owner fitting the lights and dazzling other road users in the meantime.