More adults over 65 are choosing to continue driving as they age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While it’s a great way to stay mobile and independent as you age, the risk of being injured or killed in a car crash tends to increase as we age due to a number of body-related changes. age that can affect how we drive. Nearly 700 seniors are injured each day in motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and more than 20 adults are killed as a result, according to the CDC. But that doesn’t mean you should give up driving altogether if you’re over 65, you may just need to avoid driving in certain circumstances. Read on to find out what to look out for when driving in old age.
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If you notice the sun rising or setting, you shouldn’t take the driver’s seat when you’re older. “Try to avoid driving at sunrise and sunset, when the sun may be directly in your line of sight,” the National Institute on Aging (NIA) says in the “Older Drivers” section of its website. According to the NIA, this warning comes because “your eyesight may change as you age.” Consequently, adults aged 65 and over have more difficulty seeing when driving at certain times of the day.
“Several problems are linked to an aging eye that can cause problems for older people while driving, especially at specific times like sunset and sunrise,” explains Mark Davis, MD, physician working for Pacific Analytics.
Although many vision changes occur as you age, there is one that specifically impairs your ability to see while driving at sunrise or sunset. According to Davis, the “most significant structural change” that occurs with age is a decrease in the size of your pupil.
“Due to the reduced pupil size, the eyes of the elderly become more sensitive to bright glare from the sun. The glare from the sun can disturb or hit the weakened pupils of the elderly and prevent them from seeing the road clearly, which which increases the risk of an accident,” he explains. The NIA also confirms this on its website. “Depending on the time of day, the sun can be blinding,” the agency says.
Another issue is that adults 65 and older have a “higher likelihood of having cataracts,” according to Norman Shedlo, OD, optometrist at the Eyecare Center of Maryland. “If you have cataracts, you’re going to get more and more glare when light shines directly into your eyes. So the glare from sunlight will appear even brighter and be even more disorienting,” he explains. -he.
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If you are over 65, you are safest when driving between sunrise and sunset, not before, during, or after. Elderly people may also have trouble seeing things clearly at night, according to the NIA. When you’re older, driving at night becomes dangerous for some of the same reasons that driving at sunrise or sunset is dangerous. “Small students are unable to see things clearly at night,” warns Davis.
Your eyes could also be affected by “increasing glare from bright headlights” when driving at night, according to Shedlo. “Reduce or stop driving at night if you have trouble seeing in the dark,” advises the NIA.
Driving at sunrise, sunset, or at night aren’t the only issues people are likely to face when driving as an older adult. The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that several age-related vision changes that commonly affect driving can begin in your 60s. Some of these other concerns include “not being able to see road signs as clearly, difficulty seeing close objects like the car dashboard or road maps, difficulty judging distances and speed , changes in color perception and loss of side vision,” according to the agency.
“Many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They can develop painlessly, and you may not notice changes in your vision until the disease is advanced enough,” says the AOA. “Age-related vision changes and eye disease can negatively affect your driving abilities, even before you are aware of the symptoms.”
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