The Journey Of Light

The eye uses two mediums, the lens and the cornea, to focus light. As light settles on the back of the eye, nerves send images to the brain for processing. Cataracts attack the lens, throwing off the delicate balance that normally results in clear vision.

Age is only a number

With cataracts, proteins build up both on and inside the lens. The lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurred vision. Most cataracts are age-related, forming as the lens starts to break down after 40. The disease can mature quickly or take several years to develop. Cataracts can also result from an injury to the eye, surgery, or another eye disease.

I don’t see what you mean

As cataracts worsen, many ocular issues start to appear. Patients often experience cloudy or blurry vision alongside dull-looking colors. The disease typically comes with sensitivity to light and problems dealing with glare. Despite lights seeming too bright, individuals usually have difficulty seeing objects at night. In some instances, the affected eye may also see 2 images instead of 1.

Cataracts and cars

Vision obviously plays a crucial role when driving a car. Cataracts affect each person, often growing very slowly over several years. Driving may not be difficult early on but can become a challenge as the condition worsens. Changes to eyesight can happen so gradually that patients get caught off guard by the adverse effects.

Petal to the metal

Driving with mature cataracts is like trying to see out of a constantly foggy window. Street signs, traffic lights, and other cars become harder to decipher while on the road. Cruising around after the sun goes down only makes matters worse. Streetlights and headlights from oncoming vehicles can cast blinding glare, and areas of darkness can be impossible to see through. Ultimately, each individual must decide when getting behind the wheel is no longer safe.

Should I contact my lawyer?

Just having cataracts is not legally enough to keep a person from driving. Each state does have a specific set of visual requirements to meet before driving is considered illegal. These requirements revolve around how well an individual sees and the overall field of vision. Eye doctors generally know these guidelines and can advise when driving is no longer safe.

Staying safe when you have to go

If driving is still necessary with cataracts, take the following precautions to drive as safely as possible. Choose conditions where glare will be minimal and avoid going out in heavy cloud cover or at night. Keeping the car’s windows, mirrors, and headlights clean will optimize the ability to see.

Treat yourself to better vision

Once vision is bad enough to prevent safe driving, surgery is the only treatment option. During the procedure, the ophthalmologist removes the cloudy cataractous lens and places an artificial lens there instead. This new intraocular lens, or IOL, performs the same tasks the natural lens once did.

On the road again

Surgery restores vision loss from cataracts nearly 100% of the time. Any remaining visual correction from astigmatism or refractive error can be resolved with glasses. After a cataract is removed, there should no longer be any hindering factors that were present with the condition. As always, the physician will provide the final word on whether a patient is fit to drive.