Does Bright Light Hurt Night Vision Devices?

October 10, 2022
Does Bright Light Hurt Night Vision Devices?, Steele Industries Inc

Night vision equipment is a pivotal component of many military and law enforcement operations, surveillance applications, and civilian expeditions, such as hunting. And because NVDs are such an investment, taking proper care of your night vision goggles and other NVD gear is essential. Correct upkeep, use, and maintenance are what ensure each NVD’s optimal performance and lifespan.

One frequent question regarding proper NVD care concerns the impact of bright light, including how much, if any, damage such exposure can do to your NVD goggles, binoculars, and monoculars.

Bright Light’s Effect on Night Vision Devices

Exposure to bright light can be very harmful to night vision devices and should be avoided whenever possible. This is because NVD devices are specifically designed to function in dark, low light levels (or no light). As a result, they are extremely sensitive to both natural and artificial light sources, including:

  • Blue light
  • Red light
  • Green light
  • Blue green light
  • Flashes
  • Sunlight
  • Electronic glow

To protect your NVD optics, never turn them on in full daylight or near bright flames, street lights, or similar light sources. And though not as dangerous to night vision equipment, even a milder light source, such as flashlights, lamps, etc., can cause issues. The more light exposure, the worse the damage can be.

Built-In Help for Devices

If you own night vision goggles, you may find them equipped with a gated tube. These tubes are designed to handle ambient light better, but they still don’t warrant exposure to bright lights. These auto-gated devices are able to withstand a certain level of ambient light, but direct light from a bright source can still cause damage.

If you’re worried about exposure to light harming your equipment, consider opting for second or third-generation system. Many such systems are equipped with automatic sensors, so they can shut themselves off when exposed to enough light that damage might occur.

Temporary and Permanent Burns

When the intensity of light becomes too much for a night vision device, it often burns the optical tubes within that device. While these burns can sometimes work themselves out of the tubes, if they’re bad enough, they can become permanent. A permanent burn may also occur if you turn your set of goggles off before giving the burn a chance to work itself out of the tube, making it important to be patient.

Leaving your NVD in the same position for extended periods can also be harmful. Having a static image in its view can eventually result in temporary or permanent tube burns that may cause severe visibility issues.

A good rule of thumb to avoid NVD damage from light or other causes is simply to turn off your device when you aren’t looking through it. Even in low light conditions, burns can occur from prolonged exposure to a static image.

Tips for Proper NVD Maintenance and Use

Avoid Bright Lights

Bright lights can damage your equipment. It’s critical to do everything you can to avoid exposure to them so burns will not occur.

Be Gentle

Being gentle with your devices is an absolute must. You should also avoid taking your equipment apart and attempting to fix it on your own. Contact your manufacturer and send it to a professional who can handle repairs.

Store It Well

The way you store your night vision devices is crucial. Be sure your devices are turned off (or burning may occur), no batteries remain in the terminals, and the storage area is dry and cool. This helps protect and maximize the lifespan of your equipment.

Give Your Eyes Rest

Finally, it’s essential to know your limits regarding night vision use. The user’s eye can grow tired from dark adaptation and from using even the highest-quality night vision goggles over extended periods, so try to give your eyes a break whenever possible.

Purchasing Quality Night Vision Gear

If you’re looking to purchase quality night vision gear, contact Steele Industries to find out how we can connect you to the right equipment for you. Whether you’re working with a government agency or are simply shopping for civilian purposes, we have the equipment you’re looking for and are here to serve you.