Macular Degeneration is a deterioration of the eye that affects the retina, which records the images we see and sends them to the brain. The macula is the center part of the retina, and it is what we use to focus so we can do things like drive and read. The disease also affects how we process colors, fine objects, and facial recognition. Macular Degeneration affects 10 million people in the United States.
Driving, to the American people, has long represented freedom. No one wants to give up that freedom. Baby Boomers are rapidly aging. Right now about 10% of the population is over the age of 65. As Baby Boomers age, that percentage will continue to increase. Right now it is estimated that as many as 23-40% of drivers over the age of 65 have macular degeneration. Because of this, the American Medical Association suggests we ask ourselves six questions.
If you answered yes to any or all of the questions it is highly recommended that you quit driving and consult your eye specialist before getting behind the wheel of a car again.
Let’s face it, no one wants to lose their independence. There are ways to still be independent even if you can’t continue to drive. Consider having a driving specialist evaluate you and see if there are tips to help you drive better. If the specialist recommends that you no longer drive, consider your alternatives. Are there buses in your area, or can you call a cab? Many areas have buses you can call that are for people who need assistance, and they can take you where you need to go. Many cities have a senior assistance center to help you. Finally, you can ask friends and family for help!
Dr. Travis Zigler
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