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Many factors influence your safety behind the wheel. One of the most important is your vision. As you grow older, your eyes are prone to certain conditions that impact your sight. Many of these diseases develop gradually, without any pain or perceptible symptoms. Without regular eye exams, you can experience irreversible damage before you notice a change in your vision. Some of the most common age-related eye conditions include macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

More than 1.8 million people are currently affected by AMD, and another 7.3 million people are at risk for vision loss due to this disease. It is the most frequent cause of vision loss for individuals who are age 50 and over. Some of the effects of AMD include distortion of shapes, loss of clarity and a growing dark spot in the center of your field of vision. Because these symptoms grow stronger over time, you may not be aware that you are developing AMD. Regular eye exams offer your practitioner an opportunity to catch AMD early so progression of the disease can be slowed. Early treatment will ensure you stay on the road longer.

Cataracts

The lens of your eye is completely clear, giving you crisp vision. When cataracts develop, sections of your lenses grow opaque or cloudy, impacting your sight. As the cataracts grow worse, you notice blurred vision, decreased sensitivity to contrast, duller colors and increased sensitivity to glare. This makes driving at night especially difficult. Cataracts are most likely in individuals age 55 and over. Fortunately, several treatments can completely reverse the effects of cataracts so your ability to drive is not impaired.

Driving at Night

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a serious illness that affects a growing number of Americans. One of the most alarming effects of diabetes is the disease’s potential for impacting vision. For example, diabetic retinopathy develops when the blood vessels at the back of your eye become damaged. You may start seeing floaters or spots, or you could develop a dark spot in the center of your field of vision. Blurred vision and an inability to see well at night place your ability to drive at risk. Diabetic retinopathy can develop at any age, but the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk. With regular comprehensive eye exams and appropriate treatment, 95 percent of those in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy can avoid blindness.

Glaucoma

The optic nerve is made up of more than one million individual nerve fibers, and these fibers work together to transmit signals from your eyes to your brain, creating your ability to see. Glaucoma is a condition in which the pressure of the fluid in your eye increases. As the pressure gets higher, some of the nerve fibers become damaged. This eventually leads to vision loss and, possibly, blindness. African-Americans over the age of 40 and other individuals over the age of 60 are most likely to develop this disease. While damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, it can usually be controlled if diagnosed early.

Driving is a critical component of independent living for many, but age-related changes in your eyes can threaten your safety. Regular eye exams can prevent and treat many conditions that impact your eyes as you grow older. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment, and help ensure the health of your eyes for many years to come.

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