Who knew the shape of your cornea could have such a drastic impact on your ability to drive safely and with ease? Astigmatism is a condition that many people don’t know they have, or that they can grow into over time. The shape of your cornea impacts your eye’s ability to distribute light. For those not struggling with astigmatism, their eyes are the shape of a tennis ball, while those with astigmatism tend to have a cornea shaped more similarly to the point of a football. So how do you know what recreation sports ball your eyes are shaped after? Well without going to a doctor and having your eyes checked, it can be hard to know for sure. But most people who struggle with astigmatism say the first place they start to notice a difference is in their driving.
Do you find yourself squinting to try and see clearly, experiencing a blurred or fuzzy vision, or seeing halos, starbursts, or beams of light surrounding traffic lights and car lights while driving? People with astigmatism may start picking up on their symptoms when they begin to notice an increased glare around lights that may cause them to have a harder time seeing while on the road.
I this sounds like your driving experience, not to worry! You are not alone, as 1 in 3 people have some form of astigmatism in their eyes. There’s really nothing to be too freaked out about, it all just comes down to how your eyes is distributing light. Without that perfect tennis ball-shaped cornea, you are bound to experience a little glare while driving, particularly at night when the lights are at higher contrast.
That being said, it’s important to do some research on driving with astigmatism, so that you can be prepared on how to help yourself be a safer driver on the road. Uncorrected astigmatism can be dangerous in driving situations so if any of the above blur or glare describes what you see when driving at night, the first place to start is to make an appointment with an eye doctor. An eye doctor can help miraculously, and they are sure to recommend some alternatives or treatments that will help your time on the road feel a little safer.
Prescription lenses and contacts can give people with astigmatism a good bit of relief, and adding a nonglare coating to your glasses can help with the glare from light that most people with astigmatism face. Orthokeratology is a treatment using contact lenses that you sleep in that can actually change the shape of your eye and cornea overnight, so your vision during the day is significantly better. Additionally, if you find that you’re astigmatism is too severe and life-altering there are four different types of surgery that do exist to help with astigmatism.
Beyond this, the most important thing you can do while driving with astigmatism is to be the safest driver you can be. It may sound simple, but by pursuing the safest driving factors you can, you are helping put yourself and others out of danger. Here are a few things you need to know if you are driving with astigmatism:
1. Allow extra time for driving. By giving yourself ample time to get to your destination, you are ensuring that you are not speeding and you are taking your time to be the best and most aware driver you can be. By not being in a rush, you are in control. It might also help to leave earlier before it gets dark out, and try to avoid driving when you're tired.
2. Eliminate distractions. Keep your phone on do not disturb and lowering the brightness on your phone can help in limiting the distraction that may arise. Additionally, keeping music and talking voice levels to a lower level helps with concentration.
3. Get your car regularly checked and maintained. Driving with astigmatism is dangerous enough on its own, the last thing you need is for your breaks not to work when you need them to. By taking your car in regularly, you are setting yourself up for success.
4. Avoid looking directly at the lights of oncoming traffic or traffic lights. This one may seem self-explanatory, but the thing that impacts astigmatism while driving the most is light distribution, so avoid looking too long at the beams of light coming from oncoming traffic.
5. Keep the lights off in your car. Many car settings turn the radio and dashboard lights on when you turn your headlights on indicating it's dark out. Thankfully many cars have features that allow you to control the brightness of these lights, or turn them off altogether. Additionally, if you're driving with a passenger, it's best to tell them to avoid turning on the cabin lights as this light can mess with your eyes and make it even harder to see the road.