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The Aging Eye: When Is It Time to Stop Driving? | Long Island Eye Doctor

The Aging Eye:  When Is It Time to Stop Driving?
Michelle Zalaznick, OD

This is a very sensitive subject.  Most people view driving as a form of independence.
Giving up driving means that these people could not do simple things like going to the grocery store, bank or drugstore without asking someone else to drive them there. But this is a matter of public safety, for the elderly person and other people driving on the road.

New York State has minimum visual acuity standards to drive.  The best corrected vision in one or both eyes must be 20/40 for an unrestricted license.  For a restricted license, 20/70 is required in one or both eyes.  There is also a visual field minimum of 140 degrees horizontally. Everyone is required to have a vision exam whenever they get or renew their drivers license.
In 2012, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  there were 5,560 people over the age of 65 killed and 2114 injured in motor vehicle traffic incidents.

There are many diseases that can affect a person’s visual acuity. Some of these include glaucoma, Macular degeneration, cataracts and Parkinson’s disease. A vision exam can determine whether these conditions are inhibiting a patient’s vision enough to prevent them from meeting the minimum requirement mandated by the state to drive. Eye care providers, family and caregivers need to work together to ensure that aging drivers meet the minimum visual acuity standards to drive safely.

Dr. Michelle Zalaznick

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