Women need to be aware of the warning signs of age-related eye health problems that could cause vision loss with progressing age. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms and develop painlessly, and get visible once the condition has deteriorated.
Safeguarding your vision as you age can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life.
Women suffering with diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure), or who are taking medications that have eye-related side effects, are at greatest risk for developing vision problems. The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye examinations for everyone over age 60. See your doctor of optometry immediately if you notice any changes in your vision.
Eye Changes that Affect Seniors’ Driving
If you are 60 or older, driving a car may be increasingly difficult. Age-related vision changes and eye diseases can negatively affect your driving abilities, even before you are aware of symptoms. Some age-related vision changes that commonly affect seniors’ driving are:
- Not being able to see road signs as clearly
- Difficulty seeing objects up close, like the car instrument panel or road maps
- Difficulty judging distances and speed
- Changes in color perception
- Problems seeing in low light or at night
- Difficulty adapting to bright sunlight or glare from headlights
- Experiencing a loss of side vision
These tips can help you stay safe when driving, especially at night:
- Use extra caution at intersections. Many collisions involving older drivers occur at intersections due to a failure to yield, especially when taking a left turn. Look carefully in both directions before proceeding into an intersection. Turn your head frequently when driving to compensate for any decreased peripheral vision.
- Reduce your speed and limit yourself to daytime driving. If you are having trouble seeing at night or your eyes have difficulty recovering from the glare of oncoming headlights, slow down and avoid driving at night.
- Avoid wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses with wide frames or temples. Glasses with wide temples (side arms) may restrict your side vision.
- Have an annual eye examination. Yearly eye exams can ensure your eyeglass or contact lens prescription is up to date. It can also ensure early detection and treatment of any developing eye health problem.
- Avoid Distractions: such as talking on the phone while driving or trying to puzzle out a map, even if it’s a GPS on the car; pull over instead.
- Stay off Highways: If fast-moving traffic bothers you, consider staying off freeways, highways, and find street routes instead.
- Avoid Driving in Bad Weather: (rain, thunderstorms, snow, hail, ice). Also, If you are going to a place that is unfamiliar to you, it is a good idea to plan your route before you leave so that you feel more confident and avoid getting lost.
Find the right car and any aids you need for safe driving
Choose a vehicle with automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Keep your car in good working condition by visiting your mechanic for scheduled maintenance. Be sure that windows and headlights are always clean. An occupational therapist or a certified driving rehabilitation specialist, for example, can prescribe equipment to make it easier to steer the car and to operate the foot pedals.
If you are finding it really hard, stop driving. It’s normal to be frustrated, angry, or irritable. You might even feel ashamed or worry that you are losing your independence. However, it takes a lot of courage to stop driving and put the safety of yourself and others first.
An unsafe driver can seriously injure or kill themselves or others.