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Vision on the Road

Safety behind the wheel As a matter of fact, road safety needs several different visual abilities – for example, distance and near vision, side or peripheral vision, seeing in limited light and color vision, plus many others.

Being able to see well into the distance is crucial because it allows you to observe the stretch of road ahead of you and spot any dangerous things that might come up. Most importantly, it gives you a chance to respond quickly and stop any mishaps that could take place. On the other hand, if you don't see ahead well then there's a chance you may not be able to see the hazards soon enough.

Equally as important is peripheral or side vision, which enables you see the sides of your car, which is necessary to be aware of pedestrians, animals and cross traffic without having to look away from the road ahead. Strong peripheral vision is also crucial for switching lanes and making turns. Make sure you know how to use both your rearview and side mirrors. Check they're adjusted correctly, to enhance your view of the road to your sides and back.

Road safety is also highly dependent on good depth perception. It allows you to judge distances accurately in dense driving conditions, change lanes and overtake other vehicles on the road. Accurate depth perception calls for proper sight in both of your eyes. If one lacks proper vision in one eye, it's important to check with your eye doctor to determine whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel. It may be suggested that you stop driving until a solution is found to correct your vision.

Accommodation also keeps you in good stead on the road. This is the ability to move your focus from something far to something near, like from the distance ahead of you to the speedometer. If you've recently hit middle-age you might have increasing difficulty with near vision, and it might be helpful for you to get reading glasses or another corrective device to see your dashboard. Make an appointment with your optometrist to talk about the options.

Strong color vision also comes into play on the road. Drivers must be able to quickly see traffic lights, road signs and hazard lights. For those with color blindness, reaction time may be slower than normal. If this sounds familiar, avoid using medium or dark colored sunglasses, because these can interfere with the ability to identify colors.

At the first sign of vision problems, consider how it affects your ability to drive. You can't afford to risk your life or the lives of the others on the road! If you suspect your eyesight isn't perfect, see your optometrist, and get a thorough eye exam right away.