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Eye Care on The Go

Road safety depends largely on proper eyesight. If you think about it, safety on the road relies on a number of visual capabilities – for example, being able to see both far ahead as well as your immediate surroundings, side or peripheral vision, seeing at night and color vision, just to name some examples.

Strong distance vision is crucial because it lets you observe the stretch of road in front of you and become aware of any danger that might be present. This gives you a chance to react early and prevent any accidents. On the other hand, if you lack strong distance vision you might not be aware of the hazards in time to stop an accident.

Distance vision is also affected by the state of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so check that both are very clean and scratch-free which can negatively affect your ability to see clearly, especially at night and on bright days.

You also need peripheral vision, which allows you see to the sides of your car, which is important to spot other cars, animals and pedestrians without having to look away from the road lying ahead. Being able to see peripherally is also important when switching lanes and turning. Use both your rearview and side mirrors. Ensure they're well-positioned, to assist your view of the road to your sides and back.

Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. This helps you measure distances correctly in dense driving conditions, change lanes and pass other vehicles on the road. Good depth perception needs adequate sight in both of your eyes. If one lacks proper vision in one eye, it's essential to consult with your eye doctor to determine whether it is okay for you to drive. It may be suggested that you refrain from driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Near vision focusing or the ability to accommodate properly also plays an important role while on the road. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the ability to move your focus from a view in the distance to something near, like from the distance ahead of you to the dashboard. If you're over the age of 45 it's common for you to have a slight challenge with near vision, and it might be helpful for you to get glasses or some other corrective device to help you see objects up close. Call your optometrist to talk about the options.

Color vision also comes into play in the car. Drivers need to be able to quickly identify traffic lights, road signs and hazard lights. If you've got a color vision defect, your response time could be a little slower than that of others. If this is the case, try not to use medium or dark colored sunglasses, as these can restrict your ability to identify colors.

At the first sign of a vision problem, consider how it affects your ability to drive. You can't afford to endanger your life or those of others on the road! If you feel your vision isn't adequate, see your optometrist, and get a proper eye exam sooner rather than later.