If you are over age 40, you've probably noticed your vision has started to change. Most notably, presbyopia — the normal, age-related loss of near focusing ability — usually develops at this time.
Learn what you can do to keep seeing clearly for years to come with this collection of articles that includes information on multifocal lenses, surgery for presbyopia and when it's time to buy your first pair of progressive lenses or reading glasses. Visit an eye doctor to learn more about your changing vision.
Night Vision And Driving:
How Safe Are Older Motorists?
Fading night vision can be a serious traffic hazard, particularly among older motorists who drive after dark. And because people are enjoying longer active lifestyles these days, a record number of senior drivers will be on roadways in the years ahead.
Unfortunately, lax vision screening requirements for driver's license renewals in many states mean significant numbers of drivers with age-related vision problems may not be visiting their optometrist or ophthalmologist frequently enough to make sure they can see well enough to drive safely.
To make matters worse, age-related eye problems such as cataracts can develop so slowly that older drivers may be unaware that their vision is declining.
Accidents And Older Drivers
While older drivers generally may be more at risk of having accidents, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that young motorists are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents causing death.
Why Is Aging And Night Driving A Problem?
As we age, our eyes usually begin to fail long before we notice it. For example:
Driving at night, especially when it's raining, can be particularly hazardous when older drivers have vision problems.
- Pupils shrink and don't dilate as much in the dark as we age, reducing the amount of light entering the eye. Various reports indicate that the retina of an 80-year-old receives far less light than the retina of a 20-year-old. This can make older drivers function as though they are wearing dark sunglasses at night.
- The aging cornea and lens in the eye become less clear as we age, causing light to scatter inside the eye, which increases glare. These changes also reduce contrast sensitivity — the ability to discern subtle differences in brightness — making it harder to see objects on the roadway at night.
- An older person may test well in the eye doctor's office but still struggle to focus on the road at night, where lighting is poor and more complex visual tasks are required. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, advancing years decrease our ability to see stationary and moving objects, including cars or pedestrians that might cross the road in front of us. Our ability to resist glare and see reflective road signs and markings also decreases with age.
- Many people's eyes have optical imperfections called higher-order aberrations that can't be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. These aberrations increase with age and reduce vision, especially when the pupil dilates at night.
- Age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy or cataracts affect 33 percent of all people age 40 and older — the same percentage who have nearsightedness, farsightedness and other refractive errors, according to The Vision Council. So even if you are lucky enough not to have a refractive error, you still are at significant risk of developing other common diseases affecting older eyes.