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On the Road with Good Vision

Safety behind the wheel As a matter of fact, safety on the road depends on several different visual capabilities – for example, distance and near vision, peripheral vision, night vision and color vision, plus many others.

Strong distance vision is very important because it lets you evaluate the road in front and detect any dangerous things that might come up. Being able to see ahead gives you a chance to respond quickly and prevent an accident from happening. And on the flip-side, if you struggle with distance vision then there's a chance you might not be aware of the dangers in time to stop an accident.

Distance vision is also directly related to the condition of your glasses and windshield, so make sure these are clean and scratch-free which can reduce your ability to see clearly, mostly when it's dark or sunny.

Equally as important is peripheral vision, which enables you to see either side of your vehicle, which is necessary to spot pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without needing to look away from the road ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also important when you're changing lanes and turning. Maximize use of your rearview and side mirrors. Ensure they're angled properly, to enhance your view of the road to your sides and back.

Road safety is also highly dependent on good depth perception. This helps you judge distances correctly in crowded driving conditions, change lanes and pass other cars on the road. Accurate depth perception calls for proper sight in both eyes. In cases of people that have lost vision in one eye, it's essential to consult with an optometrist to determine whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel. You may have to refrain from driving until your vision is corrected to achieve proper depth perception.

Accommodation also comes into use when driving. This is the ability to shift your focus from something ahead to something in front of you, such as from the distance ahead of you to the dashboard. If you're over the age of 45 you might have a slight challenge with near vision, and you might need reading glasses or some other corrective device to see objects up close. Speak to your eye doctor to talk about the options.

Being able to see color also comes into play in the car. Those driving need to be able to quickly recognize traffic lights, street signs and warning signals. If you've got color blindness, your response time may be a little slower than people with regular vision. If this is the case, it's best not to wear medium or dark blue sunglasses, as these can inhibit your ability to discern colors.

At the first sign of vision problems, think about how it affects your ability to drive. You never want to risk your life or those of the others on the road! If you think your eyesight isn't adequate, see your eye doctor, and have a thorough eye exam right away.