Medical Minute: Driving with Cataracts

By: Casey Taylor
By: Casey Taylor

When 74-year-old David Coyner gets behind the wheel, his eyes are not up to par. He has cataracts, which makes his vision cloudy.

"It made it very difficult to drive at night, and at that point in time, that's when it became apparent that it was time to have some surgery," says David.

During cataract surgery, a doctor removes the lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens, which improves vision.

"The surgery is the least offensive and obnoxious surgery of any surgery I've ever had and the most rewarding."

A new study shows patients who have cataract surgery not only see better but drive better. After surgery, a patient has a 50 percent reduced risk of getting into an accident compared to those who don't have the surgery.

"I think doctors, patients, the public in general, never really understood the extent to which cataracts could impact your driving ability," says Professor Cynthia Owsley.

Study author Cynthia Owsley says safety on the road is an important reason for patients to choose cataract surgery over living with impaired vision.

"Driving should be one of the issues that should be discussed between surgeon and patient."

David admits he didn't know badly his eyes were until after the surgery.

"I can't say enough about how much it's improved my ability to drive, being able to see where I'm going and make decisions at the proper time."

And that makes the road safer for everyone.

For more information, contact:

Bob Shephard
University of Alabama

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