Of all the five senses, a driver’s eyesight is considered the most important for safe driving. The ability to clearly see traffic signs, obstructions, and moving objects on the road ahead is essential to making the right driving decisions and reacting in good time. However, for most of us as we get older, our eyesight changes and becomes weaker. In fact, it is found that the majority of people with vision impairment and blindness are over the age of 50 years.
Common age-related eye diseases and symptoms
Slight changes in your eyesight that, if left untreated, can become worse. Minimise vision loss and keep a check on eye diseases which affect your vision. As you become older eye diseases can greatly hinder your driving ability. Be sure to look out for signs and symptoms of age-related eye diseases. To help prevent permanent and worsening eye damage, make regular appointments with an optometrist or ophthalmologist for early detection and treatment of vision problems.
Three of the most common causes of vision loss in elderly people are:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – The macula is the area of the retina responsible for central vision.
- Symptoms: Blurred vision, image distortion, central scotoma (a blind spot in the middle of your vision), and difficulty reading.
- Cataracts – A common cause of vision impairment in the elderly and the most common cause of blindness worldwide, glaucoma is a progressive clouding of the lens inside the eye.
- Symptoms: Blurred vision, glare, halos around lights, monocular diplopia (double vision). Difficulty to see well at night, in bad weather, or in low light conditions.
- Glaucoma – A chronic, progressive eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve caused by fluid build-up in the front part of the eye..
- Symptoms: Loss of visual field and blurred vision. However, often there are no warning signs or obvious symptoms in the early stages.
For motorists with degenerating eyesight, examples of vision changes that you could experience are:
- Taking longer to read traffic signs.
- Difficulty detecting movement outside direct line of sight.
- Glare from oncoming traffic and street lights at night interfering with or obstructing your vision.
As soon as you experience any of these symptoms or other signs of weakening vision, see an eye specialist so that you can continue to drive safely.
Note: Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, and age-related macular degeneration can often have no warning signs.
Also read: The Effect of Poor Eyesight on Driving
Tips for eye preservation and maintenance
Taking care of your eyes is critical at any age. If you’re concerned that your vision may have deteriorated and is impeding your driving, there are ways you can preserve your eyesight. Try and undertake as many from this list as possible to give your eyes the best chance of longevity:-
1. Eye health
Look after your eyes
- Get a dilated eye exam from your eye doctor every one to two years to detect eye diseases in their early stages.
- Get an annual eye exam to detect changes in visual acuity.
- Make sure your spectacle prescription is up to date and correct to avoid eye strain.
- Wear good quality sunglasses with UV protection to help block harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Staying healthy and fit long into your later years will help lessen the risk of vision loss and eye diseases
- Eat a healthy diet rich in dark leafy greens and fruit for their zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoid content.
- The recommended daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids for people over 50 years of age is 1.6g for males and 1.1g for females. Sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) include flaxseed, soybean, canola oil, chia seeds and walnuts.
- Regular weekly exercise contributes greatly towards maintaining eye health by lowering the risk of developing glaucoma.
- If you smoke, consider giving up. Be aware that the development of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are all strongly linked to smoking.
Prevent accidents – play it safe
There’s no need to tell you to avoid driving when visibility is low, to limit distractions, to keep your eyes on the road, to wear your seatbelt, to avoid talking on your cell phone, or any of the usual “common sense” tips. By now you’ve developed good driving habits through the years, but what else can you do to ensure you get to your destination safely?
- For starters, you could pick the right car.
- A car with modern safety features can reduce the risk of accidents or the severity of them. Consider features such as forward collision warning and automatic crash notification.
- Otherwise, even simple basic features such as automatic transmission and power steering will help make the job of driving so much easier.
- Defensive driving is any driver’s best tool. Motorists these days have to contend with so many distractions these days, both inside and outside the vehicle. That’s why it’s important to watch out for other drivers around you – and anticipate any potential hazards they could potentially cause. All the more reason to ensure good visual acuity.
- Keep flexible – Stiff joints and muscles can set in as we age, but exercises and stretches that improve your neck and body flexion will keep you well-oiled when you’re reversing and turning, plus elevate your drive comfort.
- Check your vehicle – When it comes to safety, maintenance is key, both for you and your car, which must also be able to handle adverse conditions should they occur without warning.
Driving provides us with a sense of independence and freedom. With good physical mobility and fitness, many people can continue to drive skillfully well past their 80s.
However, when it comes to safety on the road, physical health means very little without clear vision. And your vehicle? Well, just like you, age, make, or model won’t matter if it hasn’t been properly maintained. This is why Supa Quick offers a free vehicle safety check, which amongst a long list of parts, includes* checking your lights, windscreen, and windshield wipers to ensure clear and obstruction-free visibility. And if you’re an eBucks member you can also earn 200 eBucks. Supa Quick are dedicated to safe driving – find your nearest Supa Quick service centre and get peace of mind.
*Checklist varies from dealer to dealer.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, medical or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.