Photo by M. R. on Unsplash
When cruising through Singapore’s brightly lit roads – possibly, with your family in tow – you’ve probably never stopped to consider the problem of fading night vision. It’s something that catches up with everyone as age dulls the senses and is especially relevant in countries with an ageing population, including Singapore – the median age of Singaporeans will rise from 39.7 years in 2015 to a whopping 53.4 years in 2050.
Some changes that occur in the eyes as people age include the shrinking of the pupils – which also decreases how much it dilates, and therefore, how much light can enter the eyes in the dark. The cornea and lens of the eyes are also affected by age, becoming less clear and causing light to scatter more inside the eye, which increases glare. And of course, there’s age-related eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts which can affect night vision, even at the early stages.
These age-related changes in the eye do not imply that older drivers are potential traffic hazards. Instead, it’s better to be safe than sorry and take preventive safety measures before heading out for a drive at night, such as the following tips below.
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Defensive driving and plenty of pre-trip planning
Risks associated with driving can be lessened with some simple precautions. In an ideal world, you’d be able to plan your trips ahead of time, avoiding dark, underlit roadways, eschewing riskier intersections and uncontrolled right turns, and maybe even planning to reach back before dark.
That isn’t always realistic – instead, driving defensively by maintaining a further-than-safe distance from the car in front of you at all times will give you plenty of time to react. Finally, do take some time to get familiar with your route, and give yourself extra buffer time to prevent any extra stress while driving.
A major symptom associated with ageing corneas and lenses, as well as eye related diseases like cataracts, is increased glare. Light from oncoming vehicles’ headlights, other drivers using high beams or even from streetlights, may contribute to the glare that drivers experience, which could temporarily blind older drivers and lead to an accident. To prevent this, you could ask an eye care professional for night driving glasses equipped with anti-reflective coatings – especially since you can’t exactly throw on a pair of sunglasses for night driving.
Go for an eye check
If you’re at all unsure of your ability to drive due to ageing eye problems, there’s no better way to confirm your doubts than by scheduling a comprehensive eye check with an eye doctor. These eye checks help detect potential eye problems that may hinder your ability to drive and even other sight-threatening eye diseases that you might not be aware of.
Your eyes play an important role while driving, which is why making sure that your eyes are at their best condition while driving is important to protect yourself, your passengers and others on the road.