Are you a safe driver?

Most of the information you take in when driving is visual and if your eyesight isn’t up to standard, you could be putting yourself and other-road users at risk.

Under UK law it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure they can read a car number plate from 20m away in good daylight and this is checked as part of the driving test. Additionally, when you have an eye test, your optometrist should check that you can read to the 6/12 line on the letter chart.

Millions of drivers, about 44%, don’t have their eyes tested on a regular basis and recent research has shown that more than 10% of motorists would fail a re-take of the driving test just because of their poor eyesight.

Good eyesight is essential for safe driving

Drivers must also be able to see clearly all around and in poor light, which is particularly important in autumn and winter when it gets darker earlier.

Changeable weather conditions and the low level of sun during early evening create particular visibility problems.

Some drivers who need spectacles or contact lenses to sharpen their vision may not realise that their view behind will be much less clear than the view ahead because of distortion in the mirror.

As we get older, light passing through to the retina at the back of the eye is increasingly scattered by the lens becoming ‘cloudy’ or because of cataracts. This makes sight mistier when driving on a bright day or in the dark when facing headlights.

A lot of older drivers gradually avoid driving during these conditions, particularly at night, but there is expert help available, including the use of specialised driving lenses that improve night vison and minimise the adverse effects of on-coming glare.

Our optometrists are specialists who will check your eyesight and help with any problems. They will also check your field of vision to make sure that you do not have any problems or blind spots that could stop you from being aware of what is happening off to the sides of your vehicle, such as pedestrians stepping out into the road.

Eyewear for drivers

If you do need to wear spectacles or contact lenses for driving, it is essential to wear them at all times otherwise you are a potential danger and are breaking the law. Some spectacles are better suited for driving than others. Thin lenses and rimless designs, or those with thin rims, allow greater all-round vision and are better than those with heavy frames.

Spectacles with plastic lenses are safer and lighter and to help you see more clearly and to cut down on glare, especially when driving in the dark, reflection-free coatings should be used.

It is also advisable to keep a spare pair of spectacles in the car so that you are never without them. This is mandatory in many countries in the EU and USA.

If you normally wear contact lenses, a pair of spectacles could be more comfortable to use on long journeys when your eyes get tired. It is also very useful if you suffer from allergies or have a cold.

If you need to wear prescription spectacles for driving, never replace them with non-prescription sunglasses. Instead get a pair of prescription sunglasses or clip-on lenses.

For drivers, the importance of having a regular eye examination every year cannot be stressed enough, particularly as eyesight changes as we get older.

Why not call into our practice to arrange a full examination, to ensure that your sight is as good as it should be?

Tips for safer motoring

  • Clean your glasses

    Make sure your spectacles are kept clean to allow you to see clearly

  • Use clear lenses

    Don’t use tinted spectacles in poor visibility or at night as this will reduce your ability to see

  • Windscreen clean

    Don’t forget to keep your windscreen clean (inside and out), and keep the headlights clear too

  • Stay safe

    Remember that your sight can be affected by alcohol, prescription medicines and tiredness

  • Glare

    In the dark don’t look too long at on-coming headlights as it can take time for your eyes to recover. Instead look slightly to the left of on-coming vehicles.

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