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Vision on the Road

One of the greatest necessities for safe driving is, undeniably, good vision. If you think about it, road safety relies on a combination of a number of different visual abilities including being able to see both far ahead as well as your immediate surroundings, side or peripheral vision, night vision and color vision, plus many others.

Being able to see well into the distance is vital because of how it lets you scan the stretch of road ahead of you and become aware of any dangerous things that might come up. This gives you the opportunity to react early and avoid any accidents. Alternatively, if you don't see ahead well you may not be able to see the hazards until it's too late.

Distance vision is also directly related to the state of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so ensure both are kept clean and free of scratches and dust which can inhibit your ability to see clearly, mostly at night and on bright days.

Equally as important is peripheral or side vision, which allows you to see either side of your car, which is needed to see pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without having to even glance away from the road ahead. Being able to see peripherally is also crucial for switching lanes and making turns. Maximize use of both your rearview and side mirrors. Ensure they're well-positioned, to help your view of the road to your sides and back.

Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. It lets you evaluate distances accurately in busy traffic, switch lanes and overtake other vehicles on the road. Good depth perception calls for proper vision in both of your eyes. In cases of people that have lost vision in one eye, it's advised to consult with your eye doctor to see whether it is okay for you to get behind the wheel. You may have to stop driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Near vision focusing or the ability to accommodate effectively also plays an important role while on the road. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the capability to shift your focus from a view in the distance to something in front of you, like from the road to the dashboard. If you're over the age of 45 it's common for you to have increasing difficulty with near vision, and it might be helpful for you to get reading glasses or some other vision correction solution to see objects up close. Call your optometrist to talk about the options.

Color vision also comes into play in the car. Drivers must be able to instantly recognize traffic lights, street signs and warning signals. If you've got a color vision defect, your reaction time may be slower than normal. If this is the case, try not to use medium or dark blue sunglasses, because these can seriously interfere with your ability to discern colors.

At the first sign of vision problems, think about how it affects your ability to drive. You can't afford to risk your own life or those of other people on the road! If you think your vision isn't adequate, visit your eye doctor, and have a thorough eye exam as soon as you can.