Coping with the changes that come with age can be difficult, especially when they start to limit your independence.
In particular, the problems that many older people develop with night blindness can be particularly limiting on their ability to drive — and very frustrating.
Why are older drivers prone to night blindness?
Night blindness generally develops gradually, and it can be caused by a number of common conditions:
- Nearsightedness, which can increase with age (especially for people who do close, detailed work, readers and those who work on computers)
- Retinitis pigmentosa, which causes progressive vision loss starting in the center of the vision
- Macular degeneration, which causes blurred vision and reduced central vision acuity
- Diabetic retinopathy, especially in those whose disorder is poorly controlled
- Cataracts, which causes clouded vision and problems with refracted light
Some of these conditions are treatable, but most people simply have to make adjustments and learn to manage their symptoms as well as they can — and that means making adjustments to their driving patterns.
What can you do to make driving at night safer?
Obviously, the best thing you can do is avoid driving in the dark as much as possible, but that can be tricky in the winter when there aren’t many daylight hours. To make things easier:
- Know your route: Try to limit your night driving only to roads you know well.
- Avoid problem areas: When possible, try to stay off roads with a high traffic volume. Aim for well-lit side streets that aren’t as crowded.
- Keep your windows and headlights clean: Dirty windows create more glare from oncoming lights, so keep them clean inside and out. Your headlights, too, should be regularly wiped down so they’re working their best.
Finally, you need to recognize your limits and either call for a ride or stay home if you’re tired or if it’s raining, foggy or there are other reasons to think that driving would be exceptionally challenging.
Unfortunately, not every driver is particularly cautious nor cognizant of their limitations. If you end up injured in a crash by another driver who was struggling to see, find out what it takes to protect your legal interests and get the compensation you need for your injuries.