Driving with Diabetic Retinopathy

Driving with Diabetic Retinopathy

Tips from IALVS

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that may occur in people who have diabetes. Over time, it damages the retina – the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of your eye. Without a healthy, fully functioning retina, you will suffer from vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy does not usually have any symptoms when it first begins. However, if it is left untreated, vision problems will occur. Some common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurry vision, seeing spots, floaters, or cobwebs, seeing dark or empty spots in your vision, and trouble seeing clearly at night. Diabetic retinopathy is, therefore, a serious, sight-threatening condition that can affect your daily life, including your ability to drive safely.

If you have diabetic retinopathy, an IALVS eye doctor can help you to maximize your remaining vision with a variety of low vision aids and strategies. Before you give up on doing the activities you love to do – such as driving, contact an IALVS eye doctor near you for personalized low vision assistance. Our low vision professionals are highly qualified and experienced in teaching various ways to drive safely, as well as fitting patients with the optimal low vision devices for each individual’s unique needs.

Tips for Drivers with Diabetic Retinopathy

  • If you suddenly notice a visual problem while driving, such as blurred vision, black spots, or sudden loss of vision, it’s recommended to return home and book an appointment with your IALVS eye doctor for an assessment as soon as possible.
  • If you have difficulty seeing at night or in dim lighting, you may be advised to avoid driving at night or in cloudy and stormy weather conditions.
  • Be vigilant about visiting your eye doctor for regular eye exams to monitor your diabetic retinopathy for any changes. If your visual capacity drops below the limits set by the law, you may need to stop driving.

Types of Vision Problems from Diabetic Retinopathy that Can Affect Driving

  • Dark or shadowy patches in your vision: if Diabetic Retinopathy causes areas in your field of vision to become blurred or dark, the number of missing points in your vision is significant. If you have more than three adjacent missing points and your retinopathy has not stabilized, it may not be safe for you to drive. Our IALVS eye doctors are trained to perform a detailed eye exam to assess your visual field and determine whether it’s safe for you to get behind the wheel.
  • Glare: very strong glare from oncoming headlights or the sun is a typical problem if you have diabetic retinopathy. That’s because retinal damage can lead to multiple reflections of light inside your eye, causing glare. Wearing tinted eyeglass lenses that are specialized for low vision can help reduce glare.
  • Reduced nighttime vision: if you had laser surgery to treat diabetic retinopathy, then you may have trouble driving at night. Our IALVS professionals are knowledgeable about various optics, such as bioptic and telescopic lenses, and strategies that may help enhance your ability to see and drive when it’s dark outside.

Stay Safe – Book a low vision consultation with an IALVS eye doctor near you!

Vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can jeopardize your ability to remain independent. Our IALVS eye doctors are specially trained to help you find ways to adapt to your changing eyesight, so you can still enjoy the activities you’re used to – such as driving. We want to keep you and everyone else safe on the road!