Buchanan Optometrists

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Road Safety Week

3,000 people a year are injured on British roads due to poor eye sight.

Do you meet the standard?

You may be surprised to hear that an estimated 20% of motorists may not reach the legal standard.

The 18th of November marks the start of Road Safety Week, co-ordinated by the road safety charity Brake. The annual event aims to raise awareness about road safety and promote steps that everyone can take to stop needless deaths and injuries on the road. In support of this, Buchanan Optometrists are spending the whole of November raising awareness of how having good eyesight behind the wheel can save lives. “We were shocked at the statistics we were reading. Poor eyesight is a needless cause of motor accidents” says Optometrist Alisdair Buchanan. “A large proportion of people who would fail the DVLA vision test may just need spectacles to make them safe and legal again. We would all be horrified if a pilot, who was responsible for hundreds of lives, had sub-standard eyesight. Yet on a daily basis up to 9million people are taking journeys where they potentially risk the lives of themselves and other road users.”

Buchanan Optometrists surveyed 600 people to find out how much their community really knew about the importance of good vision and driving. Although 95% of people surveyed said they would not get into a car with someone who’s vision did not reach the legal standard, they were staggered to find that only 50% of drivers knew what that standard was.

 “The reason so many people fail the vision standard for driving is quite simple.  Vision can change subtly over time.  Although you may have passed the vision test at 17 when you took your driving test, it will almost certainly change throughout your lifetime. Therefore regular eye examinations are imperative for all road users. An eye examination will allow your vision to be brought up to the best standard possible and also check you peripheral vision which is also a legal requirement of driving. Besides making sure you are safe on the road, an eye examination can detect eye problems early and in most cases prevent your sight deteriorating to a point where you can no longer drive.’

The College of Optometrists recommends an eye examination every two years but if there is an existing history of eye problems or a family history of visual problems, you should be seen more frequently.  If you notice changes in your eyes or sight, it is always advisable to visit your optometrist as soon as possible.

Alisdair Buchanan advises ‘If you have been prescribed spectacles for driving it is important that you wear them. As many as 30% of drivers took at least two journeys each week without the glasses or lenses they have been prescribed to wear.’

Brake spokesman Martin Howard said: “It’s shocking that so many drivers with poor vision are risking lives by not taking the simple step of wearing their glasses or lenses at the wheel. Making sure you can see properly is fundamental to safe and responsible driving, and we’re horrified that so many people are failing to take this seriously.”

So, here is what you need to know about driving eyesight requirements.

DVLA Driving eyesight rules

You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.

You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye -This doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards.

Check if you need to tell DVLA about your eyesight problem by searching the DVLA website list of medical conditions that could affect your driving.

Standards of vision for driving a car

You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 6/12 (measured by your optometrist)with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary, using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.

You must also have an adequate field of vision – your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

Different standards are applicable for HGV and other vehicles, please refer to www.gov.uk for further information and advice.