Is driving becoming a stressful experience because you can’t trust your vision? It’s dangerous to drive while impaired in any way, and driving while visually impaired — even slightly — can put you and everyone else on the road at risk. If you’ve washed your windshield and know for sure those headlights work, and you still don’t feel like you can see confidently behind the wheel, it’s time to take steps to improve your vision and safety. Here are five warning signs that your vision might be inhibiting your ability to drive safely.
1. Driving at night makes you uneasy
If you’re seeing less contrast in shapes in darkness, or if objects appear blurrier and darker than ever at night, bad night vision is the culprit. Although it’s sometimes referred to as “night blindness,” poor night vision, ornyctalopia, doesn’t mean you’re truly blind. It simply means you have trouble seeing in darkness.
Cataracts are certainly a cause of nyctalopia, as well as just regular nearsightedness. Vitamin A and Zinc deficiency can play a role. A condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, in which dark pigment builds up in the retina, is also a potential cause.
2. It’s blurry behind the wheel
Reading the text on street signs is sometimes a difficult task for drivers. Straining your eyes to catch a glimpse them while driving takes your focus away from the immediacy of driving, and you could miss something important while you’re trying not to miss your turn.
Blurriness has a lot of causes, including cataracts and astigmatism. It also might be time to replace the lenses in that pair of dirty, scratched-up spectacles. It can make a world of difference.
3. You are a senior citizen
There are some fortunate human beings in the world who have reached their golden years without many eye problems. Perhaps they only need a pair of reading glasses now and then — or no glasses at all — and their eyes seem healthy. It’s important to get a regular examination, regardless.
Even if you don’t realize it, your age might be influencing your eyes’ ability to scan your environment efficiently, and to process the information you perceive on the road. Presbyopia is a condition characterized by the loss of ability to perceive nearby objects due to aging. Your reflexes and abilities do undergo changes as you get older. Your optometrist can investigate how your eyes are holding up, and prevent vision-related accidents in the future.
4. Halos on headlights mysteriously appear
On angels, they’re perfectly acceptable; on headlights, they’re a nuisance. If circles of light are beaming forth with heavenly radiance from the headlights of oncoming traffic, or if you regularly see a glare emanating from lights on the road that causes you to squint, your eyes need to be checked. Good vision at night is especially crucial.Bright lights on the road are supposed to help you find your way. Glare can become a major distraction and take its toll on your efficacy as a driver. The cloudiness of cataracts could be a key player in halo-sightings, as well as the focusing issues that come with astigmatism.
5. Your eyes get tired
A fundamental part of driving is staying alert. Tired, droopy eyes make that very difficult. Straining, difficulty moving your eyes in their full range of motion, and trouble focusing quickly are all part of the eye fatigue package.The simple motion of your eyes while following the road can wear out even the healthiest of eyes. If you wear glasses or contacts, be sure your prescription is up-to-date, and that you’re taking regular breaks while driving long distances. The lenses in your glasses or sunglasses should be polarized, for less glare, or UV-protected.
About Monterey Bay Eye Center | Monterey, CA