5 age-related vision problems older drivers need to be aware of
Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center, an Ophthalmology Center in California. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns.
Are you concerned about your safety when behind the wheel?
What is the most important sense that you need to drive? Well, you guessed it right, the impact of vision on driving is second to none. But unfortunately, your vision can deteriorate as you get older which makes it more difficult for you to see movements, people and oncoming traffic.
Ageing affects your driving skills and your body’s reaction time so don’t put yourself as well as others at risk if you feel this way. Have a word about your eligibility to drive with your ophthalmologist.
Here are some age-related eye and vision problems that you may face:
1. Age-related macular degeneration
This is an eye disease that harms the macula which is the center of the light sensitive retina in your eye and leads to loss of central vision. Your macula is the part of our eye that allows us to see in color and in detail. Everyday tasks like driving require the use of good central vision which is provided by the macula. Macular degeneration can reduce your central vision but doesn’t affect your side or peripheral vision.
2. Diabetic retinopathy
This condition usually occurs with people who suffer from diabetes. This is a result of the progressive damage to the small blood vessels that sustain your retina. These damaged blood vessels then seep blood and other fluids that make the retinal tissue swell and cloud your vision. The longer the person has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy which can lead to blindness according to its severity.
3. Dry eye
This is a physical condition that prevents a person from releasing too little or bad quality tears. Tears help in maintaining the health of the front surface of your eyes and provides clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem which usually occurs in older adults.
Cataracts are cloudy and opaque areas that occur in the usually clear lens of your eyes and cause blurry vision. This can be very inconvenient as it leads to decreased contrast sensitivity, increased sensitivity to glares which can make reading road signs a bit difficult. Cataract eye surgery is the only way to get rid of cataracts.
This is a group of eye diseases which are usually defined by the damage to the optic nerve which leads to a loss of vision. People who have a family history of glaucoma, older adults and African Americans stand a higher chance of developing Glaucoma. Glaucoma is usually painless but you can lose your peripheral side vision over time.
Here are some safety tips to consider:
1. Have an annual eye test
The American Optometric Association recommends getting an annual eye test if you are above 60. By having regular eye tests done, your ophthalmologist can ensure that your eyes don’t suffer from any serious eye-related changes like macular degeneration.
2. Get rid of the reflections in your eyeglasses lens
Reflections in your eyeglass lenses can cause glares and hamper your vision, especially when driving at night. You can opt to avoid the hassles of wearing glasses altogether by investing in eye surgery but make sure to speak to your ophthalmologist before you do so.
3. Drive defensively
A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 40% of the fatal collisions of people that are 70 and above tend to happen at intersections which involve other vehicles. The common reason for these accidents was the failure to give way, particularly when taking a left turn.
4. Avoid driving on unfamiliar routes
Research by the National Safety Council discovered that the traffic death rates are a lot higher at night as compared to daytime. A lot of ageing Baby Boomers are still driving, exposing them to the danger of getting into accidents which only increases as they age. Avoid driving in areas that you are unfamiliar with, especially if they have poor lighting, irregular twists and lack of signs.
Are you worried about not being able to get around like you used to? You as responsible drivers and citizens need to work proactively towards ensuring your own safety as well as that of others by recognizing a drop in your ability to drive safely and seek the advice of your ophthalmologist.