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Study: Eye surgery improves driving skills

Two older adults riding in a car with the top down.

Oct. 29, 2019—Cataract surgery is known to significantly improve sight. And now the results of a small study find another benefit: It may reduce the risk of car crashes in drivers who have the surgery.

By age 80, around half of all adults will have developed cataracts. These cloudy areas in the eyes' normally clear lenses cause blurry vision. Cataract surgery replaces the cloudy lens with an artificial one.

For the study, researchers evaluated the driving performance of 44 patients who had cataract surgery. As is typical, the patients all had surgery first in one eye and then, when that surgery was considered successful, the other eye.

The patients were put through driving simulator tests before and after each surgery. The tests assessed how they drove as speed limits and traffic patterns changed and in pedestrian crossings and uncontrolled intersections.

The researchers found that after the first cataract surgery, traffic crashes and near misses by the patients decreased by 35%. After the second surgery, they fell by 48%.

Researchers presented the study at the 123rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Are you ready for surgery?

If you have cataracts, your eye doctor can help you decide when cataract surgery is appropriate.

It's usually OK to put off surgery until cataracts bother you. A "yes" answer to any of these questions may indicate that you're ready for the surgery:

  • Can you safely see to drive and do your job?
  • Do you have problems reading or watching TV?
  • Is it difficult to cook, shop, climb stairs or take medications?
  • Are vision problems affecting your independence?
  • Do bright lights make it harder to see?

Cataracts 101

Learn more about cataracts—from why they occur to how to treat them .

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