Today’s post is a little different as I will be deviating away from discussing Matrix Sunglasses, sunglasses in general and of course The Matrix. Instead, today’s post deals specifically with the eyes of older folks, and how to assess their visual acuity to determine whether or not they ought to be driving.
This is an important topic in my opinion. You’ve probably seen senior citizens behind the wheel from time to time that really shouldn’t be. I’ve personally seen older folks driving way too slowly, swerving all over the place, running red lights and stop signs, and hitting curbs. Whether these experiences were due to inadequate vision or some other health-related issue is not relevant; no matter what the cause, these driving behaviors can lead to accidents and can injure others. Making matters worse is the fact that drivers aged 65 & up represent the fastest-growing segment of the entire driving population!
Thus, there is a growing emphasis on what amounts to a driving test for seniors, and a big part of the assessment is to test vision. Eye doctors are now starting to measure the peripheral vision and visual clarity and acuity of seniors, as well as inquiring about the impact of glare, night driving, and medical conditions that might hamper the individual’s ability to drive.
There is also a growing use of certain evaluation & clinical screening tools, as well as questionnaires that present various challenging driving scenarios (merging into traffic, parallel parking, K-turn, etc.), all of which are designed to reveal seniors who might want to start taking the bus. There is also more emphasis amongst eye care professionals to basically consult with senior citizens about proper driving habits (yes, you CAN teach old dogs new tricks…).
Generally, if the eye doctor determines that a senior is an inadequate driver, he or she has a few options: sending the individual to a driving school, working with the individual to try and improve his driving behaviors, or reporting the individual as an unsafe driver. Although the final option is pretty much a last resort, as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry!