How Vision Affects Road Safety

When driving, the value of seeing properly can not be underestimated. In fact, road safety needs several different visual abilities – for example, being able to see both far ahead as well as your immediate surroundings, peripheral vision, seeing in limited light and color vision, just to name some examples.

Being able to see well into the distance is highly necessary because of how it helps you to scan the stretch of road ahead and become aware of any dangerous things that might come up. Most importantly, it gives you a chance to react early and stop an accident from happening. Alternatively, if your distance vision is poor then there's a chance you might not be able to see hazards until it's too late.

Distance vision is also influenced by the maintenance of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so ensure these are kept consistently clean and scratch-free which can inhibit your vision, mostly when it's dark or sunny.

You also need peripheral or side vision, which enables you see either side of your vehicle, which is needed to be aware of other cars, animals and pedestrians without having to even glance away from the road lying ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also important for changing lanes and making turns. Maximize use of both your rearview and side mirrors. Ensure they're well-positioned, to enhance your view of the road to your sides and back.

Road safety is also highly dependent on good depth perception. It lets you judge distances properly in busy driving conditions, switch lanes and pass other vehicles. Good depth perception calls for adequate vision in both of your eyes. If you've lost visual acuity in one eye, it's important to consult with an eye doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to drive. It may be suggested that you refrain from driving until your vision is corrected to achieve proper depth perception.

Near vision focusing or being able to accommodate instantly also comes into use while on the road. Accommodating is the ability to shift your focus from a view in the distance to something in front of you, such as from the road to the speedometer. For those 45 or older it's common for you to have increasing difficulty with near vision, and you might need glasses or another vision correction solution to see your dashboard. Call your eye doctor to discuss the options.

Strong color vision is also pretty important while driving. Drivers must be able to quickly recognize traffic lights, street signs and hazard lights. For those with a color vision defect, response time might be a little slower than that of others. If this sounds familiar, avoid using medium or dark blue sunglasses, as these can seriously restrict your ability to differentiate between colors.

Try not to hold off until you renew or get your driver's license to get your eyes checked. You can't afford to risk your life or those of the others on the road! If you feel your eyesight isn't adequate, make an appointment with your optometrist, and get a thorough eye exam sooner rather than later.

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