Being a passenger could be one of Dame Judi Dench's most challenging roles.
The acclaimed actress recently revealed her health openly in a RadioTimes interview, revealing that she can no longer drive due to her deteriorating eyesight due to macular degeneration.
"A few years ago, I stopped driving, which was one of the most traumatic moments of my life," said 84-year-old Dench, making a brief appearance in the upcoming "James Bond" movie. "It was absolutely horrible. But all I know is that I'm going to kill someone if I take the wheel of a car now. "
Dench, a seven-time candidate who won an Oscar in 1998 for the role of Queen Elizabeth I in "Shakespeare in Love," first reported in 2012 that she suffers from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that weakens a person's central visual field.
"Your eye is a camera, and we have a lens (behind the pupil), and the film is the retina (which is light-sensitive and images focused)," Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retinal surgeon at the New York Eye and Ear Sinai Medical Center, said MarketWatch. In more advanced cases, such as Dench's, these lesions appear below the midsection of the retina, causing visual disturbances such as reading, recognizing faces, and vision to pass the eye exam for a driver's license.
Symptoms can be: blurred or blurred vision; See what straight lines should be – like the edge of a door or sentences on one side – as crooked or wavy; Viewing some objects as smaller than they really are; and the appearance of a gray, dark, or empty area in the center of the field of view.
Dench is one of 196 million people around the world who are expected to live with AMD by 2020. This is the third leading cause of vision loss after cataracts and glaucoma. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, more than 10 million Americans are currently affected by AMD. AMD most commonly occurs in adults over the age of 55, especially women (as they are more likely to live longer than men) and Caucasians. People with a genetic history of AMD are also more susceptible to developing the disease, and smoking can also double the risk.
There are treatments for AMD, eg. Wearing glasses to see other parts of your retina and eye injections to slow AMD progress and maintain vision. Nutritional therapies such as a diet high in antioxidants to support the cells in the eye can also be helpful.
"Myth 1 on macular degeneration states that the fear of" I will go blind "is great and that your field of vision does not turn completely black, even in the most serious cases of macular degeneration," Dr. Deobhakta. "(But) you need to have at least 20/40 eyesight to drive, and the problem with this disease is that both eyes are affected. Many patients will eventually have to do without things like driving a car. "
In fact, Dench did not stop until 2017, about five years after she revealed her diagnosis. "I can not read the paper right now, I can not solve the crossword puzzle, I can not read a book," Dench said in her last interview. "(But) I can see enough."
Research has shown that older adults with AMD have more difficulty in driving than older adults without AMD, and as many as Dench regulate their own driving to be safe. In other words, they adapt to when they are driving (eg, when they are not driving at night, which can be difficult with limited central vision), under what circumstances they drive, and how often they take the steering wheel. In fact, a 2013 study found that older mid-AMD drivers had a significant share lower The risk of getting into a car accident is lower compared to people with normal vision, which the researchers suggested because people with AMD were anxious to avoid potentially dangerous driving situations.
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However, it can be difficult for people to spot their own potential disabilities before they get behind the wheel – including chronic illnesses, where it may be time to hand over their licenses, stay in taxis, and drive stocks like Lyft
Driving is an important part of maintaining independence and competence. For this reason, in a 2016 study, 82% of riders aged 55 to 101 in a 2016 study stated that driving on was "very or very important" for them. However, most drivers also agreed that they would consider using the keys if they were in a state of health or if a doctor advised them to stop driving.
According to estimates, 40,000 people were killed in car accidents last year, and another 4.5 million were seriously injured, according to the National Security Council. Every seven seconds someone is injured in a car accident. A 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated that auto accidents cost the economy $ 871 billion a year.
The AARP has produced the following list of unsafe driving alert signals that you or another person should look out for. This could mean that it is time to come by:
- Delayed reaction to unexpected situations
- Be distracted easily while driving
- A decrease in confidence while driving
- Difficulty entering or maintaining the right lane
- When turning to the right or when reversing, step on the curbs
- Scratches or dents in the car, in the garage or in the mailbox
- Frequent calls nearby
- Driving too fast or too slow for the road conditions
AAA has also issued some general warning signs indicating that it is time to stop driving, including:
- Confusion between the accelerator and brake pedals or when there is difficulty in working (which may indicate that the leg strength is decreasing)
- Seems to ignore or miss traffic signals, especially stop signs
- No signaling when changing lanes or checking mirrors and blind spots
- Any kind of cognitive decline that can lead to loss or disorientation
If you are concerned about the ability of a spouse, parent, relative, or friend, but do not know how to start this difficult conversation, AARP also has a free online seminar with insurance company The Hartford and MIT AgeLab the difficult conversation.
Conclusion: If you are worried about your health or your driving skills, consult a doctor – not just for reassurance, but also for treatments that you can hopefully put back on the road. The sooner you notice any vision problems, the better.
"If you notice anything unusual about your vision, it does not mean that you definitely have a macular degeneration, it could be something else that can be resolved, so consult an eye doctor if you have any concerns about your ability to drive "Dr. Deobhakta said.
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