Cataract Surgery Linked to Reduced Risk of Car Accidents
With the number of older drivers on the roadways expected to explode in coming years, the question of when is the right time for a senior driver to hand over the keys to the car permanently because of diminished abilities becomes a more pressing matter. By 2030, nearly 90% of the 70 million Americans older than age 65 are projected to have driver’s licenses (according to auto insurer AAA). That’s significantly increased from 2009 when just 33 million licensed American drivers were over the age of 65.
Many seniors fear the loss of independence that can come with the inability to continue to drive safely. To their credit, it’s a legitimate concern.
But a new study published in the Australian Journal of Age and Ageing has some good news for the senior population struggling to remain independent and self-sufficient. It appears that having cataract surgery can give seniors more (safe!) time behind the wheel.
A long-term study of 2,849 drivers aged 60 and older recorded a significant reduction in car accident risk after cataract surgery. Specifically, in the large group, which was followed over the course of several years, there were 1347 car accidents in the year before cataract surgery in the first eye, 850 accidents in the period between the first and second eye surgery and 960 car crashes in the year after cataract surgery on the second eye.
Cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye, are the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. And according to the National Institutes of Health, about half of all Americans will either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery by the time they reach their 80th birthday.
Many people may avoid or delay cataract surgery because they have started to adapt to their reduced vision. This may work somewhat for interacting with people or a few basic tasks. But the cloudy, dull vision cataracts cause is not safe for driving – especially at night when glares and haloes can be more of an issue.
If people are on the fence about having cataract surgery, this study offers some solid findings regarding the very real reduced risk of accidents behind the wheel for senior drivers. Studies like this one should help people with cataracts feel even more confident about cataract surgery.
“Not only can cataract surgery give people the opportunity for restored vision, but it can also contribute to a safer, healthier life.”
– Jonathan Frantz, cataract surgeon and founder of Frantz EyeCare
Dr. Frantz is the most experienced surgeon in Southwest Florida offering bladeless laser cataract surgery. He is the #1 Cataract Surgeon in Southwest Florida*. Ready to learn more about cataract surgery at Frantz EyeCare? Click here to schedule your cataract evaluation or call 239-418-0999 and speak to a Frantz EyeCare team member.
*According to AHCA data 1st quarter 2017.