Keeping their eyes glued to the road might not be the safest thing for older drivers.
Instead, drivers over age 65 need to keep their eyes moving by glancing into their rearview mirrors frequently and continually scanning the sides of the road both near and far ahead, says Dr. Jeffrey Garcia.
This helps compensate for a loss of some side vision that usually comes with age and gives older drivers the chance to see a hazardous situation, such as a child or animal on the roadside, sooner so that they have more time to react to it.
Other things Dr. Garcia suggests older drivers can do to compensate for age-related changes in their vision are:
- Look over your shoulder before changing lanes, since vehicles close to you may not show up in a rearview mirror. Also, the images in outside mirrors can be deceptive, making other vehicles appear farther away than they really are.
- Limit driving at dawn or dusk and confine night driving to well lighted or familiar streets.
- Enroll in an older adult driving program.
- Get a thorough eye health and vision examination every year. It’s a good way to detect eye health problems that can affect driving vision and to keep prescription eyewear up to date. Ask about slightly stronger lenses for night driving. They help some people.
- If bothered by headlight glare, try an antireflection coating on clear lenses.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Know the effects on vision of any prescription or non-prescription drugs you are taking before getting behind the wheel.
- Wear quality sunglasses for daytime driving.
- Avoid frames with wide side (temple) pieces and keep eyeglasses clean.
- Keep headlights and taillights clean.
- Be certain headlights are aligned and that brake lights and turn signals are working.
- Keep rearview mirrors and the windshield clean, inside and out.
- These tips can help older people to drive safely, despite changes in their vision, and keep their driver’s license.