If You're Over 60, Never Wear This While Driving, Doctors Warn

Wearing this when you're in the driver's seat could actually cause an accident.

Every day in the U.S., nearly 700 older adults are injured in automotive crashes and more than 20 older adults are killed as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency says that the risk of being injured or killed in a car accident does increase as people get older, since a number of age-related changes tend to affect the way you drive over time. But there are ways to make sure you stay safe when on the roads, especially as you get older. As it turns out, making sure you know what to wear and what not to wear when you're in the driver's seat can make all the difference when it comes to preventing collisions. Read on to find out what you should never be donning while driving if you're over the age of 60.

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If you're over 60, you should never wear glasses with wide frames or temples while driving.

Senior man with hat and eyeglasses adjusting rear mirror while sitting in his car. Other hand on steering wheel. Picture taken from back seat.

As you get older, your habits might need to change, and that extends to the accessories you choose. The American Optometric Association (AOA) says that you should avoid wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses with wide frames or temples if you've over the age of 60. "Glasses with wide temples (side arms) may restrict your side vision," the organization explains.

Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and medical adviser for Impakt Fitness, says losing your peripheral vision is one of the three major changes that happen to your vision as you age. According to Poston, people lose between 1 and 3 degrees of peripheral vision each decade they are alive. By the time you're 60 years old, much of that peripheral vision is already gone.

"Avoid wearing eyeglasses and sunglasses that may further restrict your peripheral vision when driving," she recommends, echoing the AOA's advice.

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Your vision changes in several ways as you get older.

Mature women on a medical appointment with ophthalmologist

Besides losing your peripheral vision, Poston says there are two other major changes that happen to your vision in your later years: your eyes shrink in size and your lenses thicken. "As the lens thickens, it also becomes more cloudy, a process called cataracts," she explains, noting that spots and floaters in your vision also increase with age.

According to the AOA, cataracts can "cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, decreased ability to see under low light level conditions, dulling of colors and increased sensitivity to glare." But cataracts are hardly the only thing that can change your vision permanently after you turn 60. Other vision disorders that can hit later in life include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, per the AOA.

"Many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They may develop painlessly, and you may not notice the changes to your vision until the condition is quite advanced. Wise lifestyle choices, regular eye exams and early detection of disease can significantly improve your chances of maintaining good eye health and vision as you age," the organization states.

Driving is likely to become even more difficult because of these vision changes.

Close up of senior man holding hands on steering while and driving his car.

According to Poston and the AOA, these changes in your vision can make it much harder for you to drive as you get older. "Age-related vision changes and eye diseases can negatively affect your driving abilities, even before you are aware of symptoms," the AOA states.

The AOA says experiencing a loss of side vision is just one of the age-related vision changes that commonly affect seniors' driving. Other issues include difficulty seeing objects up close, difficulty judging speed, changes in color perception, problems seeing in low light or night, and difficulty adapting to bright sunlight.

"These changes in vision can make it more difficult to see gauges on your dashboards and road signs. You may notice it is more difficult to gauge distances as well," Poston adds. "Cataracts can also cause halos around light and make it difficult to adapt to glare."

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The AOA has other tips for safe driving when you're older.

Happy mature woman driving a car

According to the the AOA, people over the age of 60 should implement even more safe practices into their driving, especially if they're driving at night when a lack of daylight can exacerbate sight challenges. These safe practices include using extra caution at intersections, reducing driving speeds, and potentially limiting themselves to daytime driving.

"Many collisions involving older drivers occur at intersections due to a failure to yield, especially when taking a left turn. Look carefully in both directions before proceeding into an intersection. Turn your head frequently when driving to compensate for any decreased peripheral vision," the AOA recommends. "And if you are having trouble seeing at night or your eyes have difficulty recovering from the glare of oncoming headlights, slow down and avoid driving at night."

The AOA also says that adults over the age of 60 should consider taking a driving course for seniors, as well as make sure to get an annual eye exam. "Regular eye exams are even more important as you reach your senior years," the organization says. "Yearly eye exams can ensure your eyeglass or contact lens prescription is up to date. It can also ensure early detection and treatment of any developing eye health problem."

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