Can you Drive a Car if you Have Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a slow progressive disease of the eye in which the optic nerve is damaged. It is characterized by the rise in pressure of the fluid inside the eye. Older adults are more affected by Glaucoma. It leads to poor night vision, glare and decreased contrast sensitivity. If it is not treated well, it can cause a gradual loss of eyesight. Glaucoma affects peripheral vision leaving central vision.

Can you Drive a Car if you Have Glaucoma?

Can you drive a Car if you have Glaucoma?

Driving a car depends on the visual acuity and peripheral vision. Adequate central visual acuity and sufficient peripheral vision are essential for Safe Driving. Glaucoma has the potential to reduce the vision by constricting the visual field. Glaucoma affects Peripheral vision the most by the development of blind spots. It spares central vision. Even patient who has excellent central visual acuity and glaucoma are considered unsafe while driving.

Although glaucoma is a slow developing condition with no or minimum symptoms at the beginning, the symptoms that appear due to glaucoma are:

  • You can observe halo around lights, for example, street light or headlights of oncoming vehicles especially during driving at night.
  • There can be the loss of vision in one or both eyes. If you observe any blind spot in your field of vision or any sharpness of vision, it is glaucoma. There is generally a reduction of peripheral vision in glaucoma.
  • You may feel pain in the eyes that can be sharp or dull with heaviness in the eyes. Heaviness in eyes is similar to what you feel during a sinus infection.
  • There can be nausea or vomiting or both in Glaucoma.
  • You may experience redness and tiredness in eyes for a long time. This is one of indicating sign of glaucoma.
  • You may have cloudiness in the eyes or white eyes.
  • You may see multi-colored rings like a rainbow around the lights. It is also an indicative symptom of glaucoma.
  • You may feel a sudden and severe headache.
  • Some patients feel sudden and severe pain in the eyes. It is an acute attack of glaucoma which requires immediate treatment.

The chief symptoms of the glaucoma patient are poor night vision, glare and decreased contrast sensitivity.

The patient often realizes these symptoms while driving car and limit themselves. Poor night vision is the commonest symptom that inhibits old people to drive. According to Department of the motor vehicle, driving standards needs visual acuity at minimum range 20/40 and horizontal field of vision with open eyes (both) of minimum range 120 degrees. Your physician will advise you a special test to assess visual acuity that is performed with open eyes.

Many research studies reveal that there are various problems in driving related to glaucoma arising from moderate loss of peripheral visual field. Patients who develop loss of visual field are slow to react according to the conditions of the road. They are unable to take accurate decisions during driving like they have to change speed with a change in lanes and maintain the vehicle in lanes while turning in the curves of the road. A current study states that driving problems arise with the loss of some areas of visual field mainly on the left side.

To achieve the sharpest vision, the glaucoma patient should opt for eyeglasses as prescribed by their eye specialists. Amber tinted lenses and anti-reflective coatings can assist in the improvement of glare in day and night vision. Driving training classes also can improve your driving skills.

Conclusion

Glaucoma is a progressive disease that constricts visual acuity and leads to gradual loss of peripheral vision. It can affect older adults more who have a cataract at the same time. The patient experiences poor night vision and glare. Thus driving a car with poor peripheral vision even though the patient has good central acuity (with or without glasses or contact lens) should be restricted for the safety of life of oneself and others.

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