Driving Tips and Your Vision
If you have been driving for half a century, you may not feel a need for driving tips. Normal changes in eyesight during aging, however, may necessitate some changes in your driving style to maintain your safe driving record.
Our ability to see objects in motion deteriorates faster than our ability to see stationary objects. Some elderly persons, to the consternation of other drivers, compensate by reducing their speed to the levels at which they can see motion of other cars clearly—maybe clearly enough to make out some of their hand gestures!
Nearly all drivers over the
age of 60,
need to reduce speed at night. Only about one-third as much ambient light reaches the retina at age 60 as at age 20. That means driving slower is driving safer at night.
The reason nighttime driving is an issue is that the pupils become smaller as we age. The muscles around the pupil don't open as wide to let in light, so we don't see as well at night. Particularly, we don't see moving objects as well at night.
If glare, starbursts, and halos are a problem, it may be a good idea to check the possibility of getting glasses with anti-reflective coatings or lenses developed with wavefront detection technology.
Even with visual aids, accidents are three times more frequent at night as during the day. To avoid nighttime accidents, consider these driving tips:Avoid unfamiliar streets at dawn, at dusk, and during the night, especially if glare and reflection are problems.Use caution at intersections, especially if you have to yield before making a left turn.Don't use a cell phone while you are driving. Most states have passed laws prohibiting teenagers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving, but answering the phone when you are not driving your car is a good idea for drivers of all ages.Also, however angry they may make you, pay attention to cues from other drivers. Honking horns, warning tickets from traffic patrolmen, and hints from worried loved ones are among the most helpful—if not the most appreciated—of all driving tips. If you are getting messages that you are having trouble, try to restrict your driving to familiar places and take most of your trips on well-lit streets or in daylight.
Even if you don't need to hear these driving tips, you still need to keep your vision in the best shape possible. Don't skip eye exams. As hard as it may be to believe, over half of drivers over the age of 65 have never had a dilated eye exam.
Even if your state's driver licensing office is lax with its vision standards, you can protect your own health and safety and the health and safety of your loved ones with just a few doctor-related driving tips:See your doctor at least every two years, or every three to six months if you have a diagnosed vision problem such as cataracts, glaucoma, or
age-related macular degeneration.
If you use
or multifocals for
you may need frequent changes in lenses for clear vision.Get the best possible care for age-related
eye disease. If you have cataracts, ask your doctor if the implantation of an aspheric ocular lens might give you better results than the traditional spherical ocular lens. If you have diabetes, do everything you can to keep your blood sugars under control and see your ophthalmologist at least annually to make sure you are not developing
Whats at stake?
Motor vehicles crashes are the leading cause of injury among adults aged 65 to 75. In the United States, nearly 7,000 people aged 65 and over die in car crashes every year. Seeing your eye care practitioner regularly and taking care of your vision may help ensure a longer and happier life not just for you, but for your spouse, your children and grandchildren, and all the people in your community.
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