It is no secret that one of the most important things when it comes to automobile safety is clear vision. But, you may be surprised to learn that every state has different standards when it comes to licensure. In Tennessee, for example, original applicants (not renewal) must pass a vision test and have a visual acuity of 20/40 or better. If you do not have good vision you are required to see your optometrist and get corrective lenses and return with a note. You will then be issued a restricted license that requires you to wear your lenses while driving or receive a ticket.
The restrictions are a little different in each state when you apply for a license, so be sure to check their DMV website. Even if you have good vision, it is important to have a regular check up with your optometrist, to maintain good vision and eye health. They will check not only your central vision, which is your direct field of perception in front of you, they will also check your peripheral vision, which is what you see out of the corner of your eye when looking straight ahead. Having both in good health is absolutely crucial for safe driving!
Our eyesight ages with our bodies. According to AAA, someone who is 60 years old needs three times more light to drive than someone who is 20. As our eyes age, our pupils dilate less, making them smaller. Because they lose their width, it is much harder to see in the dark. If you are concerned about your elderly loved ones while driving, be sure to routinely check in with them to make sure they have the acuity needed to safely operate a vehicle. The best way to do this is to get in the car with them and look for warning signs that their vision or mental acuity is starting to deteriorate. An increase in tickets, crashes or “near-misses” is something to be concerned about as well.
Eye health deterioration is not limited to the elderly, so don’t wait until you are 60 to make your next eye appointment! Getting routine eye exams will help you stay sharp and focused, and fix any vision impairments before they get worse.