To Drive or Not to Drive? That is the Question

Just as Hamlet pondered the fine line between life and death in his famous soliloquy, you may feel like you are taking your life in your hands when you get behind the wheel. Eye conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma can make driving difficult and even dangerous. It may be time to decide whether you should restrict your driving or retire your keys for good.

Degenerative eye disease develops slowly, so you might not realize the gradual changes in your vision. Over time, however, you may notice:

1. Difficulty driving at night — When your vision is compromised, you need bright light to see clearly. The American Automobile Association says that a typical driver makes 20 decisions per mile and has less than a second to react quickly enough to avoid a collision. Driving at night puts you at higher risk for traffic accidents.

2. Glare and halos — A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, and it can cause blurred vision. When light from bright headlights and street lamps enters the clouded lens of your eye, it causes intense glare and a distracting halo effect.

3. Inability to read street signs — Failing eyesight can make it challenging to see street signs and highway markers. Delayed reaction on your part can put you or other motorists at risk.

4. Reduced speed in your driving — Patrol officers are looking for motorists who are driving too fast, but they are also on the lookout for those who are driving too slow. Driving well below the speed limit can interrupt the flow of traffic and cause other motorists to change lanes more often, which increases the risk of accidents. (Source: All About Vision).

The best way to know whether you should take to the open road or have a designated driver is to talk with your ophthalmologist. He or she can discuss the specifics of your eye condition, and you can share your concerns that you are noticing while you are driving. It may be that you can still keep your driver’s license, but you may want to restrict your driving to daylight hours and leave nighttime driving to a friend or family member. Get a comprehensive eye exam soon so you can discuss this important topic with your
doctor.