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‘Healthy Vision™ with Dr. Val Jones’ radio show offers info, advice about driving in dark

January 23, 2013

On a special rebroadcast of “Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones,” two experts join Dr. Val to talk about what happens to one’s eyes in the dark and how patients can take better care of their eyes – and the car – to improve nighttime driving. The podcasts can be shared to educate patients.

When patients are behind the wheel of a car, their eyes are constantly on the move – looking at vehicles ahead and to the side, reading road traffic signs, checking the rear view mirrors, and shifting their gaze inside and outside the vehicle in order to check the speedometer, look at their global navigation system, or change a radio station. During darkness, these tasks can become even more difficult for some drivers. Nearly one of every three drivers on the road (32 percent) say they have difficulty seeing all or most of the time while driving in the dark, according to a nationwide survey of 515 vision-corrected Americans age 18 and older.

More than one-fourth (26 percent) report they have trouble seeing signs or exits; one-fifth (20 percent) acknowledge difficulty seeing animals or pedestrians, and more than one in five (22 percent) report problems judging distance while driving in the dark.

“Low light levels cause an eye’s pupil to dilate, which can accentuate existing focusing problems and result in blurred vision,” said Cristina Schnider, O.D., senior director, Professional Communications for Vistakon® Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.

She advises listeners not to drive with an uncorrected or under-corrected vision problem.

“When you don’t see as well, you have to get closer or drive slower, and if you don’t account for that need for extra time or distance, then you are putting yourself and others at risk for accidents and close calls.”

While 73 percent of respondents believe correcting their vision problems could improve their nighttime driving, only 27 percent have ever consulted an eye care professional about treatments or products that could improve their vision while driving in the dark, according to the survey.

Dr. Schnider encourages drivers to see their eye care professional to talk about any problems they are having while driving at night and discusses some of the newer vision correction options currently available.

Glare from oncoming headlights is a contributing factor to night time driving difficulty, according to John Ulczycki, group vice president – Strategic Initiatives, National Safety Council.

He advises drivers to “keep your eyes moving and try not to look directly into oncoming headlights for more than just a fleeting moment.”

For car owners, he suggests periodically having headlights checked by a mechanic.

“We think more than half of all vehicles are driving around with improperly adjusted headlights,” he tells Dr. Val. “Little things like running over bumps can knock a headlight out of alignment and cause problems for your fellow motorists.”

Ulczycki provides helpful advice for parents on how to help their teens become better nighttime drivers and explains what pedestrians, bicycle riders, and dog walkers can do to help drivers see them (and their pets) better at night.

He also provides tips on what to do when driving at night in bad weather and what you can do to make sure your car is safe for nighttime driving.

Healthy Vision with Dr. Val Jones is devoted to educating and improving the eye health of Americans. The program is supported by Acuvue® Brand Contact Lenses and is hosted by Val Jones, M.D, chief executive officer of Better Health, LLC, and author of “Dr. Val and the Voice of Reason.” Free podcasts can be found on BlogTalk Radio (www.blogtalk radio.com/healthyvision).

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