Being safe on the roads: driving with glaucoma
For many people living with glaucoma, maintaining the ability to drive is hugely important. Not only is being able to drive convenient and quick, it can also help you maintain your independence in being able to get wherever you want, whenever.
The great news is, a glaucoma diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean a goodbye to your driver’s license. The varying nature of glaucoma means that you may still be able to drive – as long as you’re keeping track of your eyesight, regularly assessing your driving, and practicing good road safety.
Assessing your vision for driving
The main concern when it comes to driving with glaucoma is the state of your peripheral and side vision. Having the ability to see as much as possible is crucial when driving, as you need to be able to see around you when changing lanes or looking out for pedestrians and other hazards.
Consider how your vision is affecting your driving at the moment by asking yourself some of these questions:
Even if you feel your vision is fine, answering yes to any of these can be a sign your eyesight might be affecting your driving. Perhaps have a family member or friend ride along with you one day to check how you’re driving, as they’ll often pick up on things you might not even notice. We recommend asking your eye health professional or doctor what they think of the condition of your eyes, as they’re trained to give you the best advice.
What if I can’t drive?
Unfortunately, vision can sometimes get to a state in which it’s unsafe to drive – not just for you, but for others using the roads as well. While that can feel like quite a blow and a huge dampener on your ability to get around, there are plenty of alternate ways to get where you need to be.
Public transport across New Zealand is extensive – and while Kiwi transport might not have the timeliness of the Swiss, there’s normally always a bus, train, or ferry to help. Better yet, if you qualify for a SuperGold card, you can hop on board for free.
Find timetables for your area here.
In New Zealand, we’re also lucky to have taxis and plenty of ride-sharing apps to get around with. Taxi companies vary from city to city, so it’s easiest to check your phonebook or on Google. Apps like Uber and Ola are typically cheaper than taxis, but do require a smartphone to use. Other options include companion driving service Driving Miss Daisy, which is great for those whose eyesight is significantly impaired.
Practicing safe driving
Keeping your car in condition is one way to ensure your driving is as safe as it can be. Glaucoma Australia recommends ensuring your wiper fluid is always at the right level, that your tyres have adequate tread and are the right pressure and that your car has no mechanical problems (although you'll need a mechanic to help with that!). If you're interested, you can also check the safety rating of your car.
Regardless of the condition of your eyesight, it’s always important to practice road safety and responsible driving. If your vision is impaired, New Zealand Transport endorses monitoring your speed if there’s reduced visibility, using the sun visor on bright days or investing in high quality sunglasses, frequently checking your mirrors, scanning the verges of the road for hazards, and – most of all – avoiding excessive speed.
If you have any doubt, it’s important to check with your eye health professional. They’ve got the expertise to give you the best advice about your driving and what you can do to keep yourself and others safe while getting around.