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Advances in health and medicine.

Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
The Medical BannerExchange
Vision Channel
E-mail a Friend
Reported June 23, 2003

Driving with Cataracts

Driving with CataractsBIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Cataracts are the leading cause of vision problems in older adults in the United States. More than half of adults over age 60 have them. Cataracts cause a personís vision to be cloudy and make details hard to see. Surgery can improve vision, and it has additional benefits that could save lives.

When 74-year-old David Coyner gets behind the wheel, his eyes are not up to par. He has cataracts, which make his vision cloudy. ěIt made it very difficult to drive at night, and at that point in time, thatís when it became apparent that it was time to have some surgery.î

During cataract surgery, a doctor removes the lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens, which improves vision.

Driving with CataractsCoyner says, ěThis surgery is the least offensive and obnoxious surgery of any surgery Iíve ever had and the most rewarding.î

A new study shows patients who have cataract surgery not only see better but drive better. After surgery, a patient has a 50-percent reduced risk of getting into an accident compared to those who donít have the surgery.

ěI think doctors, patients, the public in general, never really understood the extent to which cataracts could impact your driving ability," says Cynthia Owsley, Ph.D., Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Driving with CataractsOwsley says safety on the road is an important reason for patients to choose cataract surgery over living with impaired vision. ěDriving should be one of the issues that should be discussed between surgeon and patient.î

Coyner admits he didnít know how bad his eyes were until after the surgery. He says, ěI canít say enough about how much itís improved my ability to drive, being able to see where Iím going and make decisions at the proper time,î and that makes the road safer for everyone.

Cataracts can take years to develop. That gradual onset is why many people donít realize how bad their vision has become. Doctors say the time to have cataract surgery is when a patient feels their vision is affecting their quality of life. Most cataract surgeries are an outpatient procedure and most patients return to their normal routines within a day or two after surgery.

This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to:

If you would like more information, please contact:

Bob Shephard
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Media Relations
1530 3rd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 934-8934

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