Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness globally, after cataracts, and affects roughly 60 million people worldwide, including over 3 million Americans. What’s scarier is that roughly half of those people – nearly 30 million people – don’t even know they have glaucoma, because there are no warning signs, no symptoms. As a result, a person can lose as much as 40% of his or her vision, starting with peripheral or side vision, before even noticing a difference. This is why glaucoma has been nicknamed the “silent thief of sight” or the “sneak thief of sight.” This is also why many glaucoma patients have the same concern – how will glaucoma affect my ability to drive?
Maryland Motor Vehicle Association Vision Requirements
To maintain an unrestricted driver’s license, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Association requires visual acuity of at least 20/40 and a horizontal field of vision with both eyes open of at least 120 degrees (requirements may vary by state). A restricted license may be issued to a person with a visual acuity of at least 20/70 in one or both eyes AND a continuous field of vision of at least 110 degrees, with at least 35 degrees lateral to the midline of each side.
Persons with visual acuity levels less than 20/70, but no worse than 20/100, require special handling by the MVA’s Glen Burnie Headquarters.
Driver License Minimum Vision Requirements in Washington, DC
No less than 20/40 in the best eye; OR
No less than 20/70 in the best eye AND
Field of vision at least 140 degrees
Assessing Your Drivability
Safe driving requires clear vision and adequate peripheral vision. Those with visual field loss from glaucoma have a narrower range of vision and, thus, may be slower to anticipate and respond to changes in road conditions. Other common issues include glare, poor night vision, and reduced ability to see contrast.
In order to maintain optimal driving vision, you can do several things:
Keep your eyeglass prescription up to date
Use anti-reflective coatings to decrease glare
Use amber-tinted lenses to increase contrast
There are also several resources to help you evaluate your driving skills and courses you can take to improve your driving skills. These include:
American Association of Retired Persons
Driver Safety Program
National Safety Council Online Defensive Driving Course
Check your phone directory for the local chapter or call to find out about courses in your area.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Drivers 65 Plus: Test Your Own Performance.
Available as a booklet and as an online quiz:
Managing Glaucoma and Preserving Vision
Vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible; however, glaucoma can be managed if detected early. With early detection and diligent treatment, your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – can preserve vision 95% of the time or more. So, when was your last eye exam?
The Anne Arundel Eye Center, led by board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles, is a regional leader in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, AAEC’s state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Samuel Boles, Dr. Nicole Kershner, Dr. Kathryn Turner, and the eye care specialists here at AAEC by calling 410-224-2010. AAEC is staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals who will help guide you on your healing journey.