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Vision and Driving

Road safety depends largely on proper vision. If you think about it, safety on the road needs several different visual capabilities – for example, distance and near vision, side or peripheral vision, seeing in limited light and color vision, to name some examples.

Being able to see well into the distance is crucial because it lets you evaluate the stretch of road in front of you and see any risks that might come up. Being able to see ahead gives you more time to respond quickly and stop any accidents. On the other hand, if your distance vision is poor you may not be aware of hazards in time to stop an accident.

Distance vision is also affected by the state of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so ensure these are really clean and free of dust and scratches which can reduce your sight, mostly at night and on bright days.

Just as important is peripheral vision, which allows you to see to the sides of your vehicle, which is needed to be aware of pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without having to even glance away from the road lying ahead. Being able to see peripherally is also important when you're switching lanes and making turns. Maximize use of both your side and rearview mirrors. Make sure they're angled properly, to assist your view of the road to your sides and back.

Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. This lets you judge distances correctly in busy driving conditions, switch lanes and pass other vehicles. Good depth perception requires proper sight in both eyes. If you've lost visual acuity in one eye, it's advised to consult with your optometrist to see whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel. It may be suggested that you refrain from driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Accommodation also plays an important role on the road. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the ability to shift your focus from a view in the distance to something near, for example, from the distance ahead of you to the speedometer. If you're over the age of 45 it's common for you to have increasing difficulty with near vision, and you might need reading glasses or some other vision correction solution to see your dashboard. Make an appointment with your optometrist to discuss the best option.

It's best not to wait until you renew or apply for your driver's license to get your eyes checked. You don't want to endanger your life or those of other people on the road! If you think your vision isn't adequate, visit your optometrist, and have a thorough eye exam sooner rather than later.

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