Decrease in Car Accidents due to Cataract Surgery?
- Posted on: Aug 2 2018
According to the Texas Department of Transportation there were 14,299 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2017 with 17,546 people sustaining a serious injury.
Based on reportable crashes in 2017 in Texas alone:
1 reportable crash occurred every 59 seconds
1 person was killed every 2 hours and 21 minutes
1 person was injured every 2 minutes and 4 seconds
The death toll was 3,721 last year
These numbers really scared us because we know that driving is very often the impetus that causes patients to decide to come to their eye doctor.
As reported in JAMA Ophthalmology, cataract surgery is associated with a small decrease in a patient’s risk for serious auto accidents as a driver. A population-based study conducted by Matthew B. Schlenker, MD, and fellow researchers included 559,546 patients who had cataract surgery in at least one eye.
In this study, 58% of the patients were women and the mean patient age was 76 years old. There were 4,680 total traffic accidents during the 3.5-year baseline interval and 1,200 traffic accidents during the 1-year subsequent interval.
The accident rate decreased from 2.36 per 1,000 patient years in the baseline interval to 2.14 per 1,000 patient years after surgery, which showed a 9% decrease in serious traffic accidents.
Just to note, there was no significant decrease in other outcomes, such as cases of traffic crashes where the patient was actually a pedestrian or a passenger. Some interesting outside notes: there was a higher risk of car accidents in males, younger patients, patients with a history of accidents, patients with more emergency visits, and patients with frequent outpatient doctor visits.
We know with our own patients here at Slade & Baker Vision, that usually pre-cataract surgery, they rely on a family member or spouse to drive, especially at night. When they get tired of not being able to drive themselves, that is when they finally end up at our office. Many times, it takes patients months to finally admit they probably shouldn’t be driving. Scary stuff.
When they are told they have a cataract and their vision gets blurry as time passes, it really affects their independence and being able to enjoy their life.
Luckily after cataract surgery, our patients are always raving about how much more safe they feel driving a car and how they can actually drive at night again. If you notice your vision is not what it used to be behind the wheel of your car, please call us for an evaluation at 713-626-5544.
Regardless of whether it is a cataract or not, we feel so fortunate to be able to have any part of an increase in safety on our roads! Keep Texas roads safe and come get your eyes evaluated!
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