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Over 65s with undiagnosed condition ‘are put in danger’
Now the clocks have gone back, eye surgeons from Hampshire are warning that drivers with undiagnosed cataracts are putting themselves and others in danger.
Experts from Optegra Solent Eye Hospital, in Whiteley, have revealed that an alarming 46 per cent of drivers in the county aged over 65 suffer from a distracting glare from lights when driving at night, which is a main side effect of cataracts.
Surgeons have dubbed the end of British Summer Time and the move to darker evenings “the advent of the cataract season” as the extended night-time driving hours exacerbate this major motoring safety issue.
New research, commissioned by specialist eye hospital group Optegra, reveals that 73 per cent of Hampshire residents aged over 65 are still driving.
Shockingly, 55 per cent of drivers who admit to experiencing the distracting glare do not feel safe driving at night, yet an overwhelming 76 per cent of those who noticed distracting glare have put up with it for more than a year.
With one in three over 65s expected to suffer vision impairing cataracts at some point, key symptoms such as glare from lights and cloudy vision are making driving hazardous, warns Optegra.
But with only 23 per cent of people in Hampshire aged over 65 recognising the distracting glare from lights as one of the main side effects of a cataract, the impaired vision, and the subsequent danger on the road this causes, is being left untreated.
Mr James Ball, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Optegra, said: “Many people are just coping with, and in some cases ignoring, these terrible vision problems.
“To drive in a haze of cloudiness is just not safe.
“Add to that the disabling glare from lights as the nights will now draw in and drivers really are putting themselves, and others, at risk.
“It is worrying that while there are specific symptoms of having a cataract, there is vast unawareness of the majority of these symptoms.”
Less than half of 65-year-olds recognise cloudy vision as being caused by a cataract and 32 per cent of people in Hampshire admit they don’t know what the symptoms are.
Mr Ball added: “It is vital that people aged over 65 know the first symptoms of cataracts so they can look into diagnosis and treatment as early as possible, and dramatically improve their quality of life.
“We have so many patients who say they feel like a net curtain has been lifted once they have had the simple procedure, and are given a new lease of life.
“We call on anyone who notices glare at this time of year to have their eyes checked, and to rest assured that this is the most commonly performed elective procedure in the world – why put yourself, and others, at risk on the roads?”
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