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To mark Road Safety Week, taking place from 16-22 November, The College of Optometrists has issued advice to drivers encouraging them to ensure their vision is up to standard before getting behind the wheel. The advice comes following research conducted by The College showing 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.

If you are a driver, The College of Optometrists has the following advice for you:

  • 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. 

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 tested 1. Optometrists are still open at the moment, and if you are concerned about your vision, do call phone your optometrist to make an appointment. We know that poor vision can cause road accidents; research funded by The College 2 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.” 

The College is conducting ongoing research on the impact of vision on accidents that result in injury. The work is funded by the Department for Transport, under their Road Safety Research Grant Scheme. The College will work with researchers from Warwick University and the team responsible for STATS 19 data, to investigate the factors that contributed to road traffic accidents. The results are expected to be published in February 2020. The findings from the research will add to the evidence base relating to the important role that optometrists play in assessing vision, and may inform future work to review and revise the approach taken to standards for vision and driving.

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on The College’s Look After Your Eyes website: www.ibmega.com

ENDS

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. Available on the College of Optometrists website. 

Notes to Editors

  1. The College is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.
  2. Optometrists are primary health care specialists trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular diseases or abnormality and problems with general health. They make a health assessment, offer clinical advice and, when necessary, prescribe spectacles or contact lenses. In addition, optometrists can dispense and supply spectacles or contact lenses.
  3. Optometrists study at university for at least three years and participate in a full year of training and supervision before qualifying. Once qualified, they have the opportunity to develop their interests in specialist aspects of practice such as contact lenses, treating eye diseases, low vision, children’s vision and sports vision. 
  4. The letters FCOptom or MCOptom after an optometrist’s name means that he or she is a fellow or member of the College of Optometrists. Membership of the College shows their commitment to the very highest clinical, ethical and professional standards, so look for these letters to see if your optometrist is a member. 
  5. For information and advice about how to look after your eyes or to find a member of the College, visit: www.ibmega.com.


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