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How Vision Affects Driving

Road safety largely depends on good eyesight. In fact, driving safely needs several different visual abilities including distance and near vision, peripheral vision, night vision and color vision, just to name some examples.

Distance vision is crucial because of how it helps you to scan the road ahead of you and detect any risks that might be present. This gives you more time to act fast and prevent any mishaps that could take place. And on the flip-side, if you lack strong distance vision you might not see dangers in time to stop an accident.

You also need peripheral vision, which allows you to see either side of your vehicle, which is necessary to spot other cars, animals and pedestrians without having to look away from the road lying ahead. Being able to see peripherally is also crucial when switching lanes and making turns. Make sure you know how to use your rearview and side mirrors. Ensure they're adjusted correctly, to assist your view of the road to your sides and back.

Road safety is also highly dependent on good depth perception. This allows you to judge distances properly in dense driving conditions, switch lanes and overtake other vehicles. Accurate depth perception needs proper vision in both eyes. If you've lost visual acuity in one eye, it's advised to check with an optometrist to determine if it is okay for you to get behind the wheel. You may need to stop driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Near vision focusing or the ability to accommodate effectively also keeps you in good stead when driving. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the capability to shift your focus from a view ahead to something close, such as from the distance ahead of you to the speedometer. For those 45 or older you might have increasing difficulty with near vision, and it might be helpful for you to get reading glasses or some other corrective device to see your dashboard. Make an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the options.

Strong color vision is also pretty important while driving. Those driving must be able to instantly recognize traffic lights, street signs and warning signals. For those with a color vision defect, response time might be a little slower than normal. If this sounds familiar, it's best not to wear medium or dark colored sunglasses, as these can seriously restrict your ability to discern colors.

At the first sign of a vision problem, consider how it affects your ability to drive. You never want to risk your life or those of the others on the road! If you think your vision isn't up to par, see your eye doctor, and get a proper eye exam sooner rather than later.

Dear Patients,

Dr. Lewis Eye Care has made the difficult choice to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic based on the recommendation of the CDC. We cannot perform eye exams while maintaining social distancing, so continuing to see patients at this time could contribute to the spread of the virus.

Our initial plan had been to reopen Monday April 6th. However, as we get closer to that date it is becoming apparent that we may have to be closed for a longer, indefinite period of time.

If you are having an urgent eye health issue, there are some clinics in our area that are seeing patients for emergencies during shorter business hours. You should call ahead to those offices before going to their clinic, as their availability might change day by day. Those clinics could include Vancouver Eye Care at 360-823-2020, Peace Health Medical Group Eye Care at 360-514-7210, and Vancouver Clinic in Salmon Creek at 360-882-2778.

If you need a glasses or contact lens prescription emailed to you from our office, click on the Contact Form link, type in your name, email, and what you are requesting, and we will email you the information you need as soon as we can.

Thank you for your understanding, and please stay healthy during this difficult time.


Dr. Scott Lewis, OD