If you worry about your older relatives or friends ability to drive safely, you're not alone. It's a problem facing many families.
Dr. Michael J. Cooney, an eye surgeon specialist in New York City joined us for a satellite interview to answer question that some of you may have.
There's always a lot of talk about older people being dangerous drivers, how much of that has to do with age-related vision loss?
Quite a bit has do with age-related vision loss. There's a host age-related eye diseases that can affect vision. Things like cataract, glaucoma, or what we are here to talk about today, and that's age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Which is the main cause of people not seeing well straight ahead after the age of 55.
And what cause that in older people?
So, macular degeneration, the greatest risk factor for that, is that every advancing decade after the age of 60, your risk goes up exponentially. Family history is also a big risk factor. People who are Caucasian and women have a higher risk factor for this as well. There are other things such a smoking, blood pressure, poor nutrition; that also play some modifiable roles in this disorder.
So, what are somethings people can do if they're facing this issue to maintain their vision, therefore stay safer when they're out there on the roads?
So first and foremost, I think every person after the age of 55 needs to have an annual dilated eye exam, to be screened for this and other age-related eye diseases. If they are found to have what we call advanced wet macular degeneration, we know from a recent study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology late last year, that patients that were treated with drug called Lucentis, the vast majority of them maintained good vision- vision good enough to maintain driving, which is usually 20/40. And the vast majority of those patients express significantly greater confidence in driving on the road.
And if there are people watching this at home and think “Hey, I fall into this category.” Who should they talk to?
I think it starts with getting in to see your eye care professional for a full dilated examination to see where you specially are. I think incorporating the family into that conversion is important because loss of independence is a big issue. Often time is they do meet criteria for the medication that we mentioned. A lot the things they want to do often times can be reestablished.