It’s no secret that impaired vision while driving has a variety of possible causes, with cataracts representing one of the major culprits. In fact, studies analyzed by Dr. Matossian of Matossian Eye Associates suggest cataracts place individuals at much higher risks for traffic accidents – and we’re going to take a closer look at this topic here.
A population-based study of over 500,000 patients was performed, with results showing a positive connection between cataract surgery and hospital visits due to motor vehicle incidents. The participants of the study included Canadian patients and those 65-and-older who had their first cataract surgery performed between 2006 and 2016. Researchers tracked the patient records for five years post-surgery, and any patient who underwent another type of eye surgery was excluded from the study results.
Out of the 559,546 patients tracked, the mean age for the group was 75, with 58-percent being women. The majority of these patients were not advised by their eye care physicians with regard to anything related to their ability to operate a vehicle – however, the research uncovered an interesting observation that younger male patients were at a greater risk for being involved in traffic accidents when driving.
Overall, the study demonstrated that cataract surgery which improved vision showed a decrease in motor vehicle accidents. Still, Matossian Eye Associates says it’s important to note that post-surgery crashes are highest during the first month, a statistic that may lend itself to patients being overconfident or still adapting to their newly enhanced vision. As always, it’s recommended that cataract patients consult with their eye doctor or eye care specialist to determine when it’s safe to drive post-cataract surgery.
Here are some additional interesting data with regard to traffic accidents and vision: Information concerning more than half-a-million Canadian seniors shows that traffic accident rates fall after drivers undergo a necessary cataract procedure. While the effect was relatively modest – about a nine-percent decline – it suggests that “improvements in visual function from cataract surgery are associated with decreased driving risks,” according to a team headed by Dr. Matthew Schlenker of the Kensington Eye Institute in Toronto.
Back in the U.S., over three million cataract surgeries are conducted each year due to the fact that between 60- to 70-percent of Americans will develop a cataract during their lifetime, with surgery remaining the only viable treatment.
For her part, Dr. Cynthia Matossian believes studies like these should remind older Americans that “it is important for any patient who notices a change in vision to have an eye exam with an eye doctor” and that “this research reiterates the importance for all patients over the age of 40 to have a yearly routine eye exam.”