Should I drive?

I have lost some of my peripheral vision (mainly top right in both eyes). The eye doctor said I am legally able to drive but personally recommended me to NEVER drive. He said he lost a friend in an accident who had slight loss of peripheral vision. This obviously got me thinking a lot. I then went for another eye test 6 months later and this doctor (who was someone else) said I should be fine to drive.

I only have my learners so haven't ever drove much.

No, I don’t think you should drive–heck where you live they drive on the wrong side of the road anyway (grin).

I can relate to your feelings; our son had seizures from middle school through high school and went through a lot of meds to find one that worked. When he was seizure free for 6 months, he was LEGAL to drive. The question is is it SAFE to drive? Not only the risk of hurting yourself, but potentially others as well. It’s a tough call. Driving for young boys means FREEDOM and POWER.

Having said that, if you were my son, I would do the following:

Find a place with little traffic so you could get some experience. I would always ride with you and (hopefully) knowing your blind spots (sorry, bad pun), would especially watch those areas for traffic hazards.

You would need to develop and PRACTICE constantly a pattern of head movements such that you could cover all your blind spots (oops, sorry again).

While we are training, you will verbally call out each vehicle that potentially could be a threat, such as “Red Truck approaching from the left, Blue car turning right, Bus approaching, jogger on right”, etc. If I see one you missed, I call it out to you. Then you try to figure out how you missed it.

Based on how well these sessions go should allow you to make your decision on driving.

If the decision is YES, and based on your experiences, you could set several ground rules for yourself, such as:

  • Minimize or stop driving at peak traffic hours.
  • Avoid driving at night or bad weather conditions.
  • Never drive after drinking (Sorry, all Dad’s have to say this often)

Hope this helps and G’Day Mate,
Ron, KS

This is the same situation that my son will face. Since I have voiced the same concerns, I was told that if people with one eye can drive, him (with a lower rigth quadrant vision loss)? His field is larger that people with one eye. You will just need to be trained to keep your head moving more. All new drivers need to be trained to keep looking around them.

I think with practice, your driving skills will get better. I have a friend who only has one eye. He just turns his head so he can see things better. I agree with Ron though, play it safe and do some ‘test’ drives with someone with you. If it were me, thats what I would do. Just be carefull and avoid heavy traffic till you get use to it.

It might be a matter of learning techniques to make sure you manage the deficit. And to start small and build your way up with short distances. I have a friend who never learned how to drive since she went to school in Boston and stayed in that area, which has great public transportation anyway. If your in an area where driving is vital to indepedence, then its worth some extra effort to find out how to make it work for you. I know that with an SUV, I have blind spots when backing up so you have to be aware of where the blind spots are and how to make sure to compensate. I'm thinking its a similar process to have a visual deficit. Definitely put safety first. aarp.org has driver safety for older drivers so might have some ideas too.

Also, there are ophthamologists who do vision training. It's a per-session form of eye re-training and might improve the vision as well.

I wonder if rehab hospitals have computer programs to check out visual issues for driving safety. In fact, if you try out a driving computer game it might give you and idea about what visual issues you might have. Some gaming systems are pretty high tech knowadays. Worth mentioning to an eye doctor.

be well!


I like ben's advice. I know I initially had a left side visual deficit that is very very minor now, but i would just be super-cautious and just look twice to make up for it. Over time, my spatial vision got better but I kept the cautious-driver approach (since it's safer and to be super-safe) and it works well.

Ben Morrell said:

I think with practice, your driving skills will get better. I have a friend who only has one eye. He just turns his head so he can see things better. I agree with Ron though, play it safe and do some 'test' drives with someone with you. If it were me, thats what I would do. Just be carefull and avoid heavy traffic till you get use to it.

Before I knew that I had an AVM that bled I was driving for 3 days until I found out that I had a bleed. I should NOT have been driving nor would I recommend driving. At first it was just a little bit of my vision but then as I was driving out of nowhere I completely lost my peripheral vision and could only see a small area in front of me. It was the scariest thing ever because I couldn't tell what was approaching me from the sides. Luckily I made it to the hospital safely.

From experience I would recommend not driving because your vision can change so quickly it is not worth risking your safety or someone elses

Maybe find the happy middle ground between “yes, you’re safe to drive” and “never again!!”. Since you haven’t driven very much be cautious. Follow Ron’s advice, it seems very sound. Maybe YOU are fine to drive, but other people are maybe not as considerate about a person who might be slow or need a few extra seconds to assess the conditions. I’ve been driving on surface streets only for the last few months just because my reaction times have decreased and believe me, people are not very patient out here. Or maybe it’s just where I live?? So I had a 5 hour drive through traffic and on freeways and I did it and didn’t die or kill any one and now I feel more confident about driving on freeways. And just allowing the time to adapt to your deficits (along with practice) may be what you need to get out there.

I like Ron's reply lol :) However I have counter on Chris's behalf. When I moved from New Zealand to CA back in 1999, the CA DMV made me learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road. To make it even harder they put the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car too, hehe ;). Now when I visit NZ I jump in the passengers seat and buckle up before realizing the steering wheel is missing. It's kind of embarrassing.

Chris, Is it possible to set up some additional mirrors in your car to eliminate your blind spots?? just a thought..

Get a 3rd opinion and then have someone else call DMV to ask them.

I had lost my left side peripheral vision for 5-7 mouths. I did not drive for 3-5 mouths at all. I would walk into door jams.

I started driving at 1 AM when no one else was on the road. I would drive to the store 4 miles a way. One day it just came back. I still did not drive alot at first but I keept driving a just a bit more. Be safe never push it just small test drives. If you know it's unsafe cut back or just ride with some one else. Good luck!

HI, DANIEL THANKS FOR THE POST I HAVE LOST MY PERIPHERAL ON THE LEFT AS WELL AND WAS A LITTLE CONCERNED ABOUT DRIVIN LIVIN IN THIS CITY LOL, I THINK I WILL START TO TAKE SHORT DRIVES TO GET USE TO LOOKIN TO THE LEFT MORE. IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I BEEN BEHIND THE WHEEL SO I THINK I BETTER START BACK BEFORE I GET TO AFAIRD TO DO IT AT ALL. THANKS GETTIN READY FOR THE SUMMER MEETIN. GOD BLESS

Daniel A Sadler said:

I had lost my left side peripheral vision for 5-7 mouths. I did not drive for 3-5 mouths at all. I would walk into door jams.

I started driving at 1 AM when no one else was on the road. I would drive to the store 4 miles a way. One day it just came back. I still did not drive alot at first but I keept driving a just a bit more. Be safe never push it just small test drives. If you know it's unsafe cut back or just ride with some one else. Good luck!

Hello i had an AVM when i was 4 1/2 and i am now 20 years old and my family and I are a little afarid to go with the step and persue with me driving, of course i would like to drive but i have been getting by ok without it, i also have floaters in my vision they are like hundreds of bubles in my vision which never go away,

thanks for reading this Elizabeth

I just wanted to let you know that driving is possible. I have an avm that was found because I was losing peripheral vision in both eyes. I had sx on my right optic nerve in 2009 which ended up costing me complete and permanent vision loss in that eye. I also have permanent vision loss in the peripheral of my left eye. You get used to it after a while. I am extra careful and vigilant on the road and do not drive at night.

that is exactly my situation. i have vision loss in my lower right quadrant and to overcome it while driving i simply overcompensate when checking my “blind spot” - (both the car’s and mine) It pays to be very VERY aware of the blind spot and never take it for granted that there could be something hiding there. like kris says you need to train or re-train yourself to look further where people with regular vision dont need to.

Kris Walker said:

This is the same situation that my son will face. Since I have voiced the same concerns, I was told that if people with one eye can drive, him (with a lower rigth quadrant vision loss)? His field is larger that people with one eye. You will just need to be trained to keep your head moving more. All new drivers need to be trained to keep looking around them.

I live in Canada. I know a young girl in her 20's who had a devastating AVM bleed at the age of 9. Although she made amazing recovery, she still has right sided paralysis and brain deficits. But she wanted to drive and in Ontario, in order for her to drive she had to take special driving instruction lessons geared to those who have disabilities to teach them how to compensate. She has a special handle on the driving wheel to help her move it more easily since she has limited movement in her right hand. I know her mother said it did cost quite a bit but she did get her licence and is driving now. ( Yay! I'm so proud of her! AND it has changed her life)

Chris...It totally depends on how much peripheral vision you have lost. I didn't loss very much on my right side peri vision, so I do drive...just short distances tho. To the grocery market, drug store, etc. Just places I need to get things, as I live alone. I am very careful and look to the right side of the road constantly. Actually, I'm watch for people who are horrible drivers as well.

Therefore, since you are a young driver, I would suggest that you have someone talk you to practice, practice, practice and then see how you do, once you have practiced for quite a long time. (I'm older and was the perfect driver, haha, for 40 years before I had my brain injury) Hang in there and keep the faith!

My daughter lost most of center-to-the-right in both eyes at age 10. Today's she's 26, and she's been driving with no problems for 10 years. No wrecks, close calls, etc. She is a very cautious driver, and she uses her mirrors more than some do, and she does things like quickly turns her head to look over her right shoulder before switching lanes, etc. All her doctors have said she's fine to drive.

Hey,

where is ur AVM located? My doctor said mine was where i may lose some of my peripheral vision if i had a bled. But I never asked him what it was called.

HI, NAYLEEN, WELL I DID LOSE SOME OF MY PERIPHERAL VISION BUT IT’S OK YOU JUST HAVE TO LEARN TO TURN YOUR HEAD A LITTLE MORE AND TRUST YOUR MIRROR’S A LITTLE MORE. I STILL RUN INTO THINGS ON MY LEFT SIDE BUT I JUST KEEP RIGHT ON GOIN, I MIGHT BUMP INTO SOMEONE STANDIN ON MY LEFT SIDE BUT I JUST LAUGH AND SAY EXCUSE ME AND KEEP GOIN. I JUST THANK GOD I AM STILL ALIVE SO I CAN DEAL WITH THE PERIPHERAL LOST. GOD BLESS

Nayleen said:

Hey,

where is ur AVM located? My doctor said mine was where i may lose some of my peripheral vision if i had a bled. But I never asked him what it was called.