The Digital Rear-View Mirror: Impractical for Most Over 50

The Digital Rear-View Mirror: Impractical for Most Over 50

by Brian Chou, OD, FAAO, FSLS

  • December 12, 2023
In 2019, Toyota introduced their digital rear-view mirror. Unlike a traditional rearview mirror, this electronic version is a screen which displays a real-time video feed of what’s behind your car. Is it worth getting?

Benefits of Digital Rear-View Mirrors

Cargo obstructing your sightline with a traditional rear-view mirror.

If your trunk is piled to the ceiling with cargo obstructing your sightline with a traditional rear-view mirror, the electronic version would still provide a full view of what’s behind your car. The digital technology also enables adjusting screen brightness and expanding the field of view.

Cars With Digital Rear-View Mirrors

Today, the digital rear-view mirror is available on RAV4 along with Sienna Hybrid and Venza Hybrid. The luxury division of Toyota, Lexus, has the digital rear-view mirror available for LS, NX and RX. Look for expanding availability of digital rear-view mirrors.

Major Drawback: The Eye’s Ability to Focus the Digital Screen

While the digital rear-view mirror is novel, there is a major drawback. If you are over age 50, your eyes will have difficulty clearly focusing the screen even if you can clearly see a hundred feet ahead at the approaching intersection. This is due to the universal age-related loss of focusing, called presbyopia. In other words, if you are above a certain age and can clearly see far away, the digital rear-view mirror, located about arm’s length away, will be blurry. This is not problematic with a traditional rear-view mirror, since objects viewed in the mirror are effectively viewed much further away.
If you wear progressive eyeglasses, clearly seeing the digital rear-view mirror will require tilting your head upward to use the bottom portion of your eyeglass lenses to clearly see the screen. This is not ergonomic nor practical. Most noticing this will abandon the digital rear-view mirror, preferring to using the regular rear-view mirror.
Given that the median age of a Lexus buyer is 54, most Lexus buyers will not find the digital rear-view mirror helpful. Bear in mind, young car sales representatives may not understand the optical limitations related to this feature. Bottom line: if you are not experiencing the age-related decline in eye focusing ability, you may like the digital rear-view mirror. Otherwise, pass it up!

ReVision Optometry is a referral-based practice in San Diego providing scleral contact lens services for patients with keratoconus and other complex eye conditions. To schedule an appointment, request your examination online or call our office at 619.299.6064.


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