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Background

Vision plays a vital role in driving, and whether it’s protecting their eyes from the dazzling sun or having a sight test to ensure their spectacles are up to date, as a driver it’s important that they take steps to make sure they have the best vision possible.

Our advice to drivers

To mark Road Safety Week, taking place from 16-22 November, we have issued the following advice to drivers:

  • The glare of low-lying sun on icy roads can cause difficulty for drivers, so make sure your windscreen is clean, both inside and out.
     
  • It’s useful to have a pair of sunglasses in the car to help with the glare from the sun. If you are buying sunglasses, make sure you invest in eyewear that complies with the safety standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013 or that carry a CE mark.  If you need glasses, prescription sunglasses are also available.
     
  • It can be difficult to see when driving during the long, dark nights of winter so it’s easy to understand why more accidents happen at night. Firstly if your optometrist has recommend you wear glasses to drive, ensure you use them. If they are more than two years old or if you are due a sight test, make sure you go to ensure you have the best possible vision. 
     
  • In winter, you may have more difficulty seeing clearly. This is because your pupils are larger in the dark than in the daylight. Your depth of field decreases when pupils are large and this means you notice blurriness more. This has two effects:  firstly, you may find that your vision without spectacles is OK during day, but not at night, so you need to wear spectacles at night. Secondly, you will notice if your spectacles are not quite right for you more in the dark than in daylight, as small changes in your vision become more noticeable at night. It is therefore particularly important in winter to make sure that your spectacles are up to date to make sure that things are as clear as they can be.
     
  • If you are having problems with your vision, call your local optometrist to make an appointment

You can also direct your patients for further information and advice to the College’s Look After Your Eyes website.

What our Clinical Adviser says

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser for The College of Optometrists says: “Having good vision is an important part of responsible driving. We know that two-thirds (66%) of British adults admit to experiencing blurred vision and a third (35%) believe their vision has markedly deteriorated in the past two years and the pandemic may have put people off having their sight tested1. Optometrists are still open at the moment, and if you are concerned about your vision, do phone your optometrist to make an appointment. We know that poor vision can cause road accidents; research funded by The College2 looked at contributory factors for just over one million injury-collisions. This found that car drivers aged over 60 were more likely to be involved in a crash where a contributory factor was ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’, and that this contributory factor increased with age. The research also found that ‘dazzling sun’ was a significant issue for older drivers, so we always advise that you have a pair of sunglasses to hand in your car.” 

References:

  1. Research undertaken by Opinium on behalf of College of Optometrists in September 2020. The sample was 2,000 British adults. 
  2. *Visual impairment and Road Safety: Analysis of UK Road Casualties and Contributory Factors. Published June 2015.  

 

Other resources of interest

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