I Can't See at Night When I'm Driving: Am I a Candidate for Cataract Surgery?

Feb 02, 2024
I Can't See at Night When I'm Driving: Am I a Candidate for Cataract Surgery?
Does seeing halos around lights at night and overall declining vision make you a candidate for cataract surgery? Here’s what you need to know about night driving and cataracts.

Driving the open road at night can be freeing, except when facing glare from street lights and headlights. Difficulty seeing at night, especially while driving, can feel dangerous, and unsettling, and could be a sign of cataracts.

Millions of people experience night vision decline as they age, and cataracts are often the culprit. But does this automatically qualify you for cataract surgery

The experienced team at Cory Bergman, MD, in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Casper, Wyoming, provide cataract surgery to remove and replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts are a common eye condition characterized by the gradual cloudiness of the lens in your eye. Imagine the lens inside your eye like the lens of a camera: It needs to be clear to focus light accurately onto the retina, which sends visual information to the brain. Over time, however, this lens can become cloudy, much like a window fogged with steam.

This cloudiness usually results from natural aging processes. The proteins in the lens start to clump together, obscuring your vision. It's a bit like looking through a frosted or fogged-up glass. This change in the lens' clarity can lead to various visual impairments, including difficulty driving at night.

Cataracts and night driving

Cataracts cloud the eye's natural lens, acting like a dimmer switch that reduces the amount of light reaching the retina. This, in turn, hinders night vision, manifesting as:

  • Glare from oncoming headlights, often surrounded by halos that obscure peripheral vision
  • Reduced contrast, making distinguishing road markings, street signs, and pedestrians challenging
  • Blurred vision, making judging distances and reacting to hazards difficult

Experiencing night driving challenges from cataracts may lead to needing cataract surgery.

Are you a candidate for cataract surgery?

While difficulty seeing at night is one of the most obvious signs of cataracts, the decision for surgery involves more than just headlights and twilight. A comprehensive eye exam from Dr. Bergman is essential. He assesses the severity of your cataracts, measures your vision, and evaluates other factors like your overall health and medical history.

Factors that may influence your candidacy for surgery include:

Degree of visual impairment

If your cataracts are mild and minimally impact your daily life, surgery may not be necessary right now. If you’re in the early stages of cataracts, Dr. Bergman may suggest proactive monitoring.

Presence of other eye conditions

Cataracts often coexist with other vision problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration. Dr. Bergman determines if these conditions might affect the outcome of surgery.

General health

Certain medical conditions may increase the risks associated with surgery. Dr. Bergman considers your overall health and medical history when deciding if you are a candidate for cataract surgery.

When to consider cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is a common and successful procedure. It involves replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens. The decision to have cataract surgery should be based on how much cataracts affect your daily life. If you find night driving becoming increasingly difficult and experience other symptoms from cataracts, it may be time to consider surgery.

Cataract surgery, while highly effective, isn't the only option. If your cataracts are in their early stages, and your vision hasn't been significantly compromised, Dr. Bergman may recommend:

  • Anti-reflective coating on glasses
  • Brighter headlights
  • Adjusting driving habits

The decision to get cataracts is ultimately up to you and your ophthalmologist. 

Schedule an appointment

If night driving is becoming a hazard due to poor vision, it’s worth discussing the possibility of cataracts with Dr. Bergman. While the thought of eye surgery can be daunting, cataract surgery is a routine procedure with a high success rate which can significantly improve your ability to see clearly at night. Call the office nearest you or schedule an appointment online.