Arrive Alive

Eye Diseases

Eye Diseases that affect Drivers

For most people, driving represents freedom, control and independence. Driving enables us to get to the places we want to go to at our own convenience. More importantly, to many others it represents a means of earning a living.

Even though it seems so simple, driving is a complex skill. Your ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in your physical, emotional and mental condition.  One of the physical changes that can occur happens with respect to vision. 90% of the information we use in driving comes through seeing therefore good vision is essential for road safety. If you can’t see properly, you can’t drive safely. Clear, comfortable vision will allow you to respond and react to road signs and other road users more quickly & accurately.

Any eye diseases or conditions that affect your vision will in turn affect your ability to drive safely. Some of the leading causes of vision impairment in South Africa are cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and refractive errors.

 

Cataracts

A cataract is an opacity or “cloudiness” of the lens within the eye. When the lens becomes cloudy (much like the frosted glass in our bathroom windows), light cannot pass to the retina properly resulting in blurred vision.

Cataracts occur in different stages. In its early stages it may be so small that it does not affect you vision and you may be able to drive safely for many years.

With time the cataract will worsen making your vision dull and blurry. Having a cataract can make it harder for you to see the road, street signs, other cars, and pedestrians.

You may find it more difficult to see things bright light and may have more trouble with glare from headlights.

Colours may look more faded and your night vision may get worse.  Some people also experience difficulty with judging distances and have double vision as the cataracts progress.


 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye pressure becomes higher than the eye can tolerate. This is a painless condition that gradually damages the optic nerve.

It causes “tunnel vision” and affects your peripheral or “side” vision.

Depending on the stage of glaucoma, patients have dull vision and have difficulty reading road signs especially in low light conditions.

This picture indicates typical “tunnel vision,” that occurs in glaucoma.

 

 

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy or diabetic eye disease, is damage to the retina of the eye from poorly controlled or long standing diabetes. This can also result in visual impairment and may lead to blindness if not detected and/or treated timeously.

Some patients experience reduced peripheral vision, especially if laser treatment is needed. This affects the peripheral vision and makes driving (especially at night) unsafe.

Patients with diabetic retinopathy may see “blotchy” and blurred images like these.

 

 

Refractive Errors

Refractive errors are the most common eye disorders. Most people have a refractive error, i.e. the eye has an “error” in its ability to focus light correctly. The term “refractive error” refers to myopia (shortsightedness), hyperopia (far/long-sightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. Refractive errors are usually easily corrected with spectacles or contact lenses.

Uncorrected refractive errors may make it more difficult to see traffic signs, pedestrians and other motorists as your ability to see at a distance is affected. This problem may be worse at twilight or at night.

Figure 1. Indicates the vision that a persons with cataracts may experience – glare from headlights at night.

Figure 2. Myopia or short-sightedness causes blurred distance vision

Figure 3. Tunnel vision caused by loss of peripheral vision in glaucoma.

How to maintain good driving vision

 

  • Have regular check-ups at your optometrist (at least every two years) to make sure that your vision is good.
  • Keep the prescription for your glasses up to date and make sure your glasses are suitable for driving.
  • Be aware of how your vision may change and how it can affect your driving. Modify your driving patterns to allow for some of these changes. For example, think about limiting or avoiding driving at night or twilight.
  • Modify your car to help compensate for age-related changes in vision. For example, reduced side vision with age can be partly overcome by installing special mirrors on the car and making sure there are properly adjusted wing mirrors on both sides of the car.
  • Keep your windscreen clean to reduce glare.

 

[Information provided by Yurisa Naidoo for Clearvision]

Click here to view the Article by Monique Terrazas in Autonews September 2006: ” Early identification of eyesight problems in drivers”

 Also View:

Tell A Friend

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Safe Driving with Trucks in the Mountains

Safe Driving with Trucks in the Mountains

Introduction Recently, due to fires in the Outeniqua mountains, drivers had to take a detour from Oudtshoorn to George via the Robinson pass towards Mossel Bay. The Robinson pass is much more of a challenge for truck drivers as there are no “extra lanes” and the corners tend to be much

Read More

Safe driving in the mountains / mountain passes

Safe driving in the mountains / mountain passes

#contentcontainer a { display: inline-block; margin: 5px; } Introduction With a rather extensive road network across South Africa drivers are bound to traverse across mountains and mountain passes at some time. Even though this may be an exhilarating experience, we often find drivers behind the

Read More

Dashboard Camera Recorders and Road Safety

Dashboard Camera Recorders and Road Safety

Technology is making a significant contribution toward safer roads. Not only are developments in technology maker vehicles safer, but also increases our ability to measure and evaluate driving behaviour. On the Arrive Alive website, we have information on vehicle telematics and how it is best used in

Read More

Trail Running and Safety

Trail Running and Safety

Introduction Not every runner remains satisfied with the usual run on the treadmill or on the road. Many have discovered the beauty of a change in scenery and the challenges of variation in physical terrain, elevation and other conditions. This not only stimulates the mind but also forces the body

Read More

Physical Fitness for Safe Driving / Road Safety

Physical Fitness for Safe Driving / Road Safety

Introduction Much of being a safe driver is being fit to drive in the first place and knowing when this is the case. When we discuss driver fitness we tend to refer to sobriety, fatigue, eyesight etc - all those conditions that might impact on the ability to see, think, and move well enough to

Read More

Running / Jogging and Road Safety

Running / Jogging and Road Safety

Background Information Road Safety is a concern not only for motorists but also for other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and runners. Running injuries are quite common but can be reduced through proper conditioning and training programs; wearing the appropriate apparel and footwear and

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All