Safe Driving Vision Tips for Older Drivers

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The chances of eye disease affecting our driving vision is near 100% by age 80. Clearly, as we age, we need to aware of driving vision changes that may affect our driving skills.

The changes that the eyes go through during the aging process can affect night driving vision.The pupils of the eye shrink and don’t dilate as much in the dark. The cornea and lens of the eye become less clear as we age, and this causes light to scatter inside the eye and this in turn increases glare. 

For older drivers who have even mild cataracts the headlights of approaching cars can cause a lot of glare. To compensate for this glare, try to look just slightly down and not directly at the oncoming headlight. Yellow-tinted glasses may help with glare.

Contrast sensitivity also decreases as we age. Contrast is the visually detected difference between light and dark areas. Diminished contrast sensitivity can make it more difficult to see curbs or faded road signs. Driving in the rain, snow, or fog can also cause a decrease in contrast sensitivity.

The longer your eyes are exposed to sunlight the longer they need to recover. If you have ever come indoors from being out in bright sunlight and found it hard to see for a while until your eyes “adjust” then you have experienced this. A few hours of exposure to bright sunlight can reduce the ability of your eyes to adjust to the dark by about 10 minutes.

Wear Sunglasses

Because too much sunlight is damaging to night vision, always wear sunglasses when outdoors. Sunlight is a billion times brighter than the lowest light you can see in, so wearing sunglasses when outdoors is essential to maintaining good night vision.

Schedule an Eye Exam

The only way to make sure your vision is acceptable for driving at night is to have a comprehensive eye exam. A dilated eye exam is the only way to find some common eye diseases while they are easier to treat.

Suggestions for Save Driving Vision

  • Know the situations that make you uncomfortable. Certain types of weather or busy roads or highway driving may be distressing for you so avoid those situations.
  • Do your driving in the daytime if you are bothered by headlight glare. Avoid driving during dusk because that can create a low-contrast situation.
  • Eliminate distractions. Chatting with passengers can be a distraction to your attention. Turn off your radio and avoid conversations using your cell phone or with passengers in your car. Don’t eat or drink while driving.
  • Plan your routes ahead of time and have an alternative route.
  • Don’t drive when the weather is bad. Avoid driving in the rain, snow, or fog. Let the bad weather clear before you attempt to drive.
  • Avoid extremely busy intersections. It is better to go a little out of your way to avoid a difficult turn or intersection.  
  • Consult a driving rehabilitation specialist who can evaluate you for muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, reaction time, judgment, decision-making skills and who can recommend a way for you to drive more safely. 
  • Visit to learn more about driver rehabilitation services.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals

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