Cataracts are clusters of proteins that build up on the lens of the eye, causing it to cloud over. Cataracts can affect vision to the point that routine tasks become difficult. The only effective treatment is cataract surgery, which removes a damaged lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens.
A common concern among individuals who are diagnosed with cataracts is how cataracts interfere with driving. In their early stages cataracts probably won’t affect driving at all, but eventually driving can become unsafe. Here, eye doctors from Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic, which serves Detroit, Dearborn Heights, and Lincoln Park, MI, explain how cataracts affect vision, and specifically, how they can interfere with driving.
How Cataracts Can Affect Driving
Cataracts are a progressive condition that compromise vision over time. As proteins build up, the lens takes on a foggy or cloudy appearance. Cataracts can cause a general blurring of the vision (like looking through a foggy window) and make it difficult to distinguish fine details and colors. As cataracts compromise vision, they can interfere with driving. Some potential driving issues for people with cataracts include:
- Poor or unclear central vision
- Difficulty reading traffic or street signs
- Double vision
- Difficulty distinguishing colors of stop lights or other traffic signals
- Difficulty seeing in bright light
Cataracts and Night Driving
Cataracts can interfere with driving during the day, but their effects are particularly noticeable at night. Cataracts cause issues with contrast and light. Cataracts also block light from entering the eye, so people need more light to see clearly. The dark conditions make night driving difficult, but this is further impacted by the fact that individuals with moderate to advanced cataracts often experience glares or halos around sources of light. Headlights, streetlights, and signal lights can all create visual disturbances that make it unsafe to drive at night with cataracts.
As cataracts progress and begin to interfere with daily functions, like driving, it is time to consider cataract surgery. During cataract surgery the cataract is broken up and the natural lens of the eye is removed. An intraocular lens (IOL) is put in place of the natural lens. This artificial lens acts like a contact lens. IOLs come in a variety of prescription options, so they provide a clear lens that allows light into the eye, and they are also able to correct common refractive errors that cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.
Can I Drive After Cataract Surgery?
Cataract surgery is highly effective at improving eyesight and eliminating visual disturbances that can interfere with driving. Even if people experience minor visual impairment after cataract surgery, it can usually be corrected through the use of prescription eyeglasses. The majority of patients are able to resume driving and all other routine activities once they have fully healed from cataract surgery.
If you are suffering from cataracts that interfere with driving or other day-to-day activities it is probably time to consider cataract surgery. To learn more about cataract treatment, send us a message online, or call (734) 284-2444 and schedule an appointment at Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic.