Spectacled drivers across Britain are risking a fine, driving ban or even prison by not wearing their prescribed distance visual correction when on the roads but many people do not know this, according to new research. Almost half of drivers didn’t realise it was illegal to drive without their prescribed distance glasses or contact lenses and one in four have risked getting fined or banned from driving by not wearing them when driving.
According to new data from The College of Optometrists, the main reasons people didn’t wear them when driving were they simply forgot (36%), they find them uncomfortable (20%) or even that they don’t want to admit they need to wear glasses (14%).
New side-by-side images have been created to show the true impact of common eye conditions, such as cataract, short and long-sightedness, otherwise known as myopia and hyperopia respectively, and glaucoma.
The images raise awareness about how these common eye conditions, if left untreated, can be dangerous to drivers, obstructing their vision and creating hazardous situations.
Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Advisor at The College of Optometrists explains why this is such a dangerous thing to do: “At the College we want to strongly urge drivers to wear their spectacles or contact lenses if they have been prescribed for driving. Driving without them, no matter how well you think you can see, is reckless and can put yourself and others in danger. Optometrists will never prescribe glasses or contact lenses if you don’t need them, so refusing to wear them when recommended really is putting other road users at risk.”
Eye health doesn’t seem to be at the top of the agenda for over a third (36%) of drivers who say they have never had their eyesight tested specifically for driving and more than 1 in 10 (12%) say they have never even visited an optometrist.
Yet worryingly, some drivers have experienced issues directly due to their poor eyesight. Around a fifth (18%) of people say they have missed a turning because they were unable to see the sign.
There’s no denying that eyesight can be a sensitive subject, particularly among friends and family, and over a quarter (26%) of people say they have felt nervous in a car due to a driver’s eyesight. A fifth (21%) have actively had to remind a driver to put their glasses on.
However, it is encouraging to see that half (50%) of people would feel confident in having an honest conversation and asking a friend or family member to get their eyes tested.
As Paramdeep continues, it is important to have these honest conversations. “I would encourage anyone who’s felt unsafe due to someone’s eyesight to have an honest conversation and prompt them to see an optometrist. We recommend everyone has sight tests regularly, and your optometrist will tell you how often this should be.
There are a host of conditions that can increase with age, including presbyopia (causing long-sightedness), glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Having regular eye exams can help detect these conditions and help manage the symptoms from getting worse. Some of the conditions that can become more prominent with age can impact your sight when driving immensely. The law states you must be able to read a number plate from 20 meters, a condition like myopia that impacts your distance vision may make this impossible. But having the correct prescription will make it clearly visible.”