Can You Drive With Macular Degeneration?

For many, the ability to drive a car means freedom, control and independence. But as a person ages, they may develop certain medical conditions, such as macular degeneration, that can make it difficult or impossible to safely get behind the wheel. 

Our IALVS low vision eye doctors are passionate about helping you live an independent life to the fullest, despite having macular degeneration or other eye diseases. 

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that damages the retina’s central portion called the macula. This eye disease is a leading cause of blindness in senior citizens. 

There are 2 forms of the disease: wet and dry. Dry AMD is milder than wet AMD and accounts for about 85% of AMD cases. In dry AMD, small yellow deposits of lipids and proteins, called drusen, are deposited beneath the retina and impair its ability to function. 

In Wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels under the retina begin to leak fluid into the retinal tissue, causing damage. Although far less common than dry AMD, this type is responsible for 90% of severe vision loss from AMD and progresses much faster than dry AMD. 

Symptoms of AMD include: 

  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Difficulty [recognizing] faces
  • Distorted vision that causes straight lines to appear wavy
  • Loss of central vision in advanced cases

Because AMD impairs central vision, patients with advanced AMD find it challenging to carry out day-to-day tasks like watching TV, doing household chores, and driving. 

Can a Person With AMD Safely Drive?

Receiving an AMD diagnosis doesn’t automatically disqualify you from navigating the roads. Initially, your driving abilities may not be affected. But as AMD progresses, it may become increasingly difficult to read road signs or drive in poor visual conditions. 

If your AMD is beginning to impact your ability to drive, low vision aids and devices can help restore some independence. 

Many AMD patients can successfully operate a vehicle using a variety of low vision aids to [maximize] their usable vision and provide a greater visual field. 

Some examples of low vision aids that patients with AMD use for driving include bioptic telescopes, E-Scoop lenses and tinted lenses.  

Bioptic telescope glasses work by improving distance vision for AMD patients with mild to moderate central vision loss and adequate peripheral vision.  E-Scoop lenses can reduce glare and improve contrast, while slightly magnifying distance vision. 

Be sure to check the legal driving requirements in your area. Every location has its own regulations regarding the minimum visual acuity required for issuing a driver’s license. 

Low Vision Aids and Devices for Macular Degeneration

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with AMD, our IALVS low vision optometrists are here to help. We offer a wide range of low vision aids and devices to improve the lives of patients experiencing sight-threatening eye diseases. 

At your low vision consultation, your optometrist will carefully assess your ocular health and degree of vision loss to determine your visual needs. Then your optometrist will recommend the most suitable low vision aids for your needs and lifestyle. 

Your low vision optometrist may also refer you to a driving rehabilitation professional to help you feel more confident, safe, and comfortable on the road. 

Contact your IALVS low vision optometrist to discover how you or your loved one can enjoy much independence as possible.