You may think driving without your contact lenses or glasses isn’t a big deal, but trust us, it is.As Key-Whitman Eye Center’s President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, M.D. explains, “ Recent research on car accidents shows people who drive without vision correction are four times more likely to get into an accident. Even more concerning is that at least 20 percent of drivers admit to always driving without their correction.” LASIK surgery is one of the most effective solutions for uncorrected vision.
Dr. Whitman explains why some people drive without glasses or contacts.
Could you be endangering others on the road and not realize it?
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how bad their eyesight really is or how it could have an impact on others.
According to Dr. Whitman, “It’s well known that people who suffer from cataracts lose their vision over time. It’s a progressive change, so many people don’t notice it. But it’s one of the easiest vision problems to correct, especially with the safe laser technology we use for cataract surgery today.”
Vision loss affects people of all ages – and the ability to drive safely
While you may assume this phenomenon is isolated to elderly drivers with cataracts, more people in their 40s and 50s are getting cataracts now. In addition, poor vision and people driving with uncorrected vision – that 20 percent – occurs with drivers of all ages.
“Young drivers are at risk because they are more likely not to wear their prescription glasses or contacts. Maybe they don’t think they need glasses during the day, but then at night their vision gets worse. If they left their vision correction at home, that could be a dangerous drive home,” Dr. Whitman says.
Glaucoma is another blinding eye disease that can impede your ability to drive. Left untreated, patients start to experience permanent peripheral vision loss. Says Dr. Whitman, “Just think about it. When we drive, we need our peripheral vision. We need to see what’s going on to the right and left, not just straight ahead. Glaucoma is a very preventable disease, especially when diagnosed early and if the patient follows his or her treatment plan.”
Dry eye symptoms can also impede safe driving
As Dr. Whitman explains, “Dry eye symptoms can affect your vision either intermittently or constantly, and it can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. At Key-Whitman, we have a dry eye center just to address dry eye problems, and with most patients, we can reduce symptoms significantly and make it more comfortable to wear contacts.”
The incidence of dry eye symptoms is on the rise, too. This is especially true for teens and young adults, where excessive screen time is the norm.
Vision problems can be easy to correct and options are plentiful
It all starts with a thorough eye exam. “The best way to maintain eye health and achieve your best vision is to take time to get your complete eye exam every year, just like you would a regular health physical,” Dr. Whitman says.
Dr. Whitman offers advice regarding vision correction and driving.
Along with diagnosing and treating eye diseases and conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and dry eye syndrome, it’s important to see an eye doctor regularly to ensure your glasses and contact lens prescriptions are up to date. If your prescription is out of whack, that means you’re driving with uncorrected vision, too.
LASIK eye surgery may help you drive more safely
Dr. Whitman also encourages patients to consider LASIK eye surgery to further improve vision, especially if they have trouble wearing contacts and seeing well at night.
As he explains, “Studies have shown that patients who previously wore contact lenses and then had the LASIK procedure is that about one-third report they see better at nighttime following LASIK than they did with their best correction with their contacts. The other benefit related to LASIK and driving is you don’t have to remember (or choose) to put your glasses or contacts on.”
Don’t put yourself or others at risk due to uncorrected vision
You wear your seatbelt and try to obey traffic laws when you drive, so why drive without adequate vision correction?
Dr. Whitman encourages those who choose to drive without vision correction to think long and hard about the risks. “Tell yourself, ‘I need to see the best I can, because I need to be safe when I drive down the road. I don’t want to hurt anyone else. And I don’t want anyone to hurt me because they can’t see either.’”
If you have any questions about LASIK or would like to schedule an eye exam at our Dallas, North Dallas, Arlington, South Arlington, Plano or Mesquite offices, please call (214) 225-2577 to speak with a Key-Whitman patient service representative.