Arrive Alive

Eye Diseases

Eye Diseases and Road SafetyEye 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 your 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 a dull vision and have difficulty reading road signs especially in low light conditions.

This picture indicates the 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 are affected. This problem may be worse at twilight or at night.

Figure 1. Indicates the vision that a person 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:

Eye Protection and Road Safety

Driving and Clear Vision

Eyesight

Importance of Vision

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Road Safety near Construction Zones / Roadworks

Road Safety near Construction Zones / Roadworks

Introduction and Overview Increased infrastructure spending and funding for road construction have led to a significant increase in the number of highway construction projects around South Africa. The safety of road users and workers is a concern on roads and highways worldwide. Thousands of people

Read More

Safety of workers and flagmen in areas of road construction

Safety of workers and flagmen in areas of road construction

Workers in areas of road construction are worthy of protection. On the Arrive Alive website, we find information on safe driving in areas of construction activity. The most important safety precaution for drivers is to obey the Rules of the Road, road signage and the directions from flagmen. This

Read More

Vehicle Checklist, Roadworthiness and Safe Driving

Vehicle Checklist, Roadworthiness and Safe Driving

Before every drive, we need to perform a few safety checks in and around the vehicle. When we go for a long drive such as for the holidays this is even more important and the list to check becomes a bit more comprehensive! Our vehicle safety check needs to identify potential hazards and prevent additional

Read More

Vehicle Maintenance and Repair

Vehicle Maintenance and Repair

Background info Road Safety requires not only driver fitness but vehicle fitness. A well-maintained vehicle not only speaks volumes about the owner but will protect the owner on the road. Many accidents caused by vehicle failure can be prevented and many stranded motorists face the preventable

Read More

Vehicle maintenance and safety guide to roadworthiness of vehicles

Vehicle maintenance and safety guide to roadworthiness of vehicles

Vehicle roadworthiness is one of the important requirements for the safety of all our road users. On the Arrive Alive website, we refer to contributing factors to vehicle crashes concerning three categories - driver fitness, vehicle fitness and environmental factors. With the assistance of our road

Read More

Vehicle Modifications, Alterations and Road Safety

Vehicle Modifications, Alterations and Road Safety

Manufacturers deliver vehicles which cater for the average driver and have settings that will provide the best (erring on the conservative) in terms of longevity, economy, ride comfort, performance. That satisfies most drivers but some, quite possibly because they can’t find/afford a “performance”

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All