Driving with Cataracts: What You Need to Know

Nov 10, 2023
Driving with Cataracts: What You Need to Know
While cataracts cause a decline in vision it doesn’t mean you have to give up driving right away. Here are some tips for driving safely with cataracts.

Many of us enjoy driving for the freedom and convenience it provides, not to mention the ability to get us where we need to go. However, our vision can change as we age due to conditions like cataracts. Understanding how it impacts driving is essential if you or a loved one experiences vision changes because of cataracts.

The experienced team at Cory Bergman, MD, in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Casper, Wyoming, provide diagnosis and treatment of cataracts to keep you driving safely as long as possible.

What are cataracts?

Normally, eye lenses are clear. When you have a cataract, the lens becomes cloudy and reduces your vision. Many people experience cataracts as a normal part of the aging process. Still, it can be accelerated for some people due to prolonged sun exposure, smoking, diabetes, or taking certain medications.


Over time, cataracts cause the lens to become opaque, causing light to scatter inside the eye instead of focusing properly on the retina. This results in blurred or dim vision, difficulty with night vision, and sometimes even double vision.

Cataracts and driving

The symptoms of cataracts can pose significant challenges when driving. Here are some of the most common ways cataracts can impact your driving experience:

1. Reduced night vision

One of the earliest symptoms of cataracts is difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, such as driving at night. Driving with cataracts at dusk or during the night is particularly hazardous as oncoming headlights can cause glare or a halo effect.

2. Decreased contrast sensitivity

Cataracts can make it harder to distinguish between objects and their backgrounds, particularly in low-light situations or when the sky is overcast. Recognizing pedestrians or identifying the edge of the road becomes more challenging.

3. Changes in color perception

Over time, cataracts can cause colors to appear faded or yellowish. In extreme cases, this can make it difficult to recognize traffic or brake lights, especially if they're not as bright as they should be.

How to drive safely with cataracts

While cataracts can pose challenges, it doesn’t mean you have to stop driving immediately. Here are some driving safety tips to keep in mind:

Limit night driving

If you find it hard to see clearly at night, try to limit your driving to daylight hours. If you must drive at night, ensure your headlights are clean, and use the low-beam setting. Consider specialized glasses for night driving to reduce the glare.

Get regular eye exams

It's vital to have regular eye check-ups, especially if you're over 60. Dr. Bergman can monitor the progression of your cataracts and guide you when it might become too risky to drive.

Anti-glare lenses

If you wear glasses, consider getting lenses with an anti-glare coating. This can help reduce the glare from headlights and streetlights.

Know when to stop driving

Your safety and that of others should always be a priority. If you're experiencing visual disturbances that make driving unsafe, it's crucial to recognize when it's time to hang up the keys temporarily or seek alternative modes of transportation.

Advanced cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is one of the most common and successful eye procedures performed today. It involves replacing the clouded lens with a clear, artificial one. After surgery, many patients report improved vision, often even without the need for corrective lenses.

If you have concerns about your vision or cataracts, don't hesitate to contact Dr. Bergman for an evaluation and treatment plan. To find out more, call the office nearest you or schedule an appointment online.