When driving, the value of good vision can not be underestimated. In fact, safety on the road depends on several different visual capabilities – for example, distance and near vision, side or peripheral vision, night vision and color vision, plus many others.
Distance vision is very important because of how it allows you to observe the road in front of you and become aware of any danger that might be present. Being able to see ahead gives you more time to react early and avoid an accident from happening. On the other hand, if you struggle with distance vision then there's a chance you might not be able to see hazards soon enough.
Distance vision is also influenced by the condition of your windshield and glasses (including sunglasses), so make sure these are kept clean and clear of scratches and dust which can negatively affect your vision, mostly when it's dark or sunny.
Equally as important is peripheral vision, which enables you to see to the sides of your car, which is important to be aware of pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without needing to even glance away from the road ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also important when you're switching lanes and turning. Make sure you know how to use both your side and rearview mirrors. Check they're well-positioned, to help your side vision.
Additionally, good depth perception is important for road safety. It helps you measure distances properly in busy traffic, switch lanes and overtake other cars. Good depth perception requires adequate functioning in both eyes. If you've lost visual acuity in one eye, it's important to check with your optometrist to see whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel. You may have to refrain from driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.
Near vision focusing or the ability to accommodate instantly also plays an important role while on the road. If you're unfamiliar with the term accommodating, it is the ability to move your focus from something ahead to something in front of you, for example, 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 you might need reading glasses or some other corrective device to help you see your dashboard. Call your optometrist to discuss the options.
It's best not to wait until you renew or apply for your driver's license to have an eye exam. You never want to risk your life or those of other people on the road! If you think your eyesight isn't adequate, visit your optometrist, and get a thorough eye exam as soon as you can.