By 2030 it is anticipated that one in four drivers will be age 65 or older. Because people now in their 50s and older will likely maintain active lifestyles during the next few decades, that means a record number of senior drivers will be on roadways in the years ahead. Many older adults report that maintaining the ability to drive represents independence, freedom, and control.
As the population of senior drivers on the road increase, age-related eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration can make safe driving a greater challenge. The cornea and lens in the eye become less clear as we age which increases glare. These changes reduce contrast sensitivity making it harder to see objects on the roadway at night. Also as we age, pupils shrink and don’t dilate as much in the dark, reducing the amount of light entering the eye. Various reports indicate that the retina of an 80-year-old receives an average of 45% less light than the retina of a 20-year-old.
To make driving safer for an older and potentially visually challenged population, the auto industry and the government are making some changes.
Carmakers are making efforts to help compensate for some of the physical changes that age brings by adding such features as larger rear-view mirrors, bigger read-outs on instrument panels, and instrument controls designed for less flexible hands.
Government is also addressing the challenges older drivers face by making signs easier to read for aging eyes. They are changing the font used on road signs to one that increases the distance at which the signs are legible for older drivers.
A thorough exam by your eye care specialist can help determine if you or a loved one have any of the age related issues that can make driving a challenge and if so, what you can do to minimize their impact on your driving and lifestyle. If you have questions or concerns regarding how aging changes in the eyes effect may be effecting your driving, contact your eye specialist, or call us at Shanbom Eye Specialist.