Age-related macular degeneration complications: Driving ability and central vision loss

By: Emily Lunardo | Eye Health | Wednesday, September 14, 2016 - 12:00 PM

Age-related macular degeneration complications: Driving ability and central vision lossAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) complications include reduced driving ability and central vision loss. The study found that the loss of central vision in the elderly impairs their ability to spot pedestrians. The study aimed to evaluate using a driving stimulator how much the blind areas delay responses to pedestrians and other hazards.

The participants with AMD drove a simulator. In the first phase of the test, the researchers found that participants with blind areas on the side were likely to miss pedestrians coming from the side. Central vision loss was also found to delay a driver’s reaction in spotting pedestrians and other hazards, impeding the driver’s ability to safely react to the situation on the road.

Research lead P. Matthew Bronstad said, “If you are a low-vision patient, you should understand how the condition affects and perhaps limits your ability to drive safely. These data should prove useful to clinicians in advising patients about whether they should continue driving, and may even become a consideration for state agencies responsible for licensing drivers.”

Driving when you have age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the decline in vision that occurs through aging. As a person’s ability to see reduces, performing everyday tasks such as driving can become a challenge. For the most part, corrective lenses can help improve one’s vision, enabling the affected individuals to still partake in activities.

In AMD, central vision is mainly affected. As a result, road signs, pedestrians, and traffic can be quite difficult to see. This can not only put the driver at risk, but those around them, too.

As long as your eye doctor has given you the okay to drive, you may continue doing so. But if they have advised otherwise, you will need to find an alternative to driving. This can be calling a taxi, taking a bus, or having family and friends drive you around.

Depending on your age, you may need to undergo a driving test to ensure you are still capable of driving safely. If you do not pass this test, your license may be revoked.

AMD cannot be reversed, but it may be wise to stock up on your antioxidants in order to slow down the progression of AMD and avoid vision loss.


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Related Reading:

Low vision in elderly: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Age-related macular degeneration and atherosclerosis linked to inability to remove fat and cholesterol buildup: Study

Sources:

http://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2015/09/how-central-vision-loss-affects-hazard-detection-while-driving
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136517
http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/Macular/Index.html

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