Glaucoma is sometimes called the “silent thief of sight” because many patients experience no symptoms until the condition has already advanced to a late stage. If not detected in the early stages by a glaucoma doctor, the condition can lead to irreversible vision loss, impairing your ability to conduct a wide variety of everyday life activities such as driving a motor vehicle.
The Relationship Between Glaucoma and Driving
Many studies have analyzed how glaucoma impacts driving ability. One study revealed that older patients with glaucoma are at higher risk for motor vehicle accidents. A four-year analysis conducted at a Philadelphia hospital involved 142 patients with moderate glaucoma. From this group, nearly 11% reported involvement in at least one motor vehicle accident throughout the study.
In another study, drivers with and without glaucoma underwent driving tests and were assessed by a professional driving instructor. Based on the data, drivers with mild to moderate glaucoma had worse overall performance behind the wheel compared to those without the condition. They experienced difficulties maintaining and observing their lane positions, especially at intersections. They were also prone to making critical errors, which required the instructor to interfere.
Glaucoma and How It Impairs Driving
Safe driving requires sharp visual skills. You need to be able to stop at a red light, change lanes and perceive pedestrians crossing the road, among many other things. With glaucoma, peripheral vision is severely impaired. Also, people with glaucoma have a difficult time dealing with glare and low contrast situations, especially when they drive at night. Glaucoma patients may mistakenly think their eyesight is good enough to drive because their central vision remains sharp, but this is a dangerous misconception given their compromised peripheral and night vision.
Note that half of the people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. If you are having a hard time seeing behind the wheel at any time of the day, consult with your local glaucoma and cataract doctor as soon as possible.
The possibility of not being able to drive can be scary, but there are numerous alternate modes of transport available, including public transit, rideshare services and volunteer drivers in your community.
For your eye care needs, turn to a glaucoma doctor at EyeSite of The Villages. Among the top-notch services we offer are vision correction consultations, glaucoma diagnosis and treatment, and eye disease management. We are committed to providing the highest-quality, comprehensive family eye care for clients of all ages.
Call us today at (352) 504-4560 or fill out our contact form to request an appointment. We serve residents of Lady Lake and Fruitland Park, FL.