Navigating the Roads with Clarity: Low Vision Awareness Month and the Intersection with Driver Safety

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Many individuals experience changes in vision as they age. February is Low Vision Awareness Month and serves as a reminder to address vision changes, especially when it comes to the safety of those behind the wheel.

One of the main concerns related to low vision and driving is the increased risk of crashes. Reduced vision can compromise a driver's ability to detect obstacles, road signs, and other critical elements on the road. Learn more about how medical conditions and medications could impact road safety.

It's not just about seeing clearly during the day; night vision becomes a challenge for individuals with low vision. Nighttime driving demands more vision focus, and those with low vision may face difficulties navigating in low-light conditions. Glare from headlights and reduced peripheral vision can worsen these challenges. To address these issues, drivers with low vision can take proactive measures, such as using anti-glare coatings on eyeglasses, ensuring proper lighting in vehicles, and avoiding nighttime driving when possible.

Other tips from NHTSA to help with declining vision as a driver:

  • Always wear your glasses and be sure that your current prescription is up to date.
  • Do not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses at night.
  • Keep your windshield, mirrors, and headlights clean, and make sure your headlight aim is checked when your car is inspected.
  • If you are 60 or older, see an eye doctor every year to check for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions associated with aging.

In addition to personal and vehicle adaptations, encourage the older adults in your life and your community to recognize the signs of changes to their vision and encourage everyone to get regular eye check-ups.

In addition to prescription contact lenses or glasses to correct vision, other options may include a vision rehabilitation specialist.

Millions of people in the United States are living with a visual impairment where their condition can’t be improved with glasses, contacts, or other standard treatments like medicine or surgery. Vision rehabilitative services can help individuals with any type of visual impairment make the most of the vision they have.

Decline in skills that are important for driving are not always based on age alone. But, if you notice changes in your vision, it is important to understand how this may impact your ability to drive safely and the steps you can take to understand any medical changes to better ensure the safety of yourself and others while on the road.

To learn more about Low Vision Awareness Month visit the National Eye Institute.