Eye Matters
March 19, 2013

Driving blind

The reality of life is that we need our vision for almost everything that we do. Poor vision can affect our performance in school and at work. It can prevent a child’s normal development and also one’s general health. When it comes to driving, it is of the utmost importance.{{more}}

Today, I want to talk about something that is of great concern to me. There are many persons with very bad eye sight who drive their vehicles every day. In my clinic, I know of several cases where patients have been warned not to drive, but we still see them on the road. This is especially worrying. These people are a hazard on the road.

Although we do not have such statistics in St Vincent, a recent survey of motorists in England shows that one in six people fail the standard eye test. This test was given was as follows: one must be able to read a number plate 67 feet away, which is about five car lengths or one cricket pitch.

The research went on to show that more than half of those motorists had not had their eyes tested in over two years. Apart from that, a quarter of those who had prescription glasses, said they never wore them. The research went further to show that at least 50 per cent of the drivers said that they believe driving with poor eyesight is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

Good eyesight is crucial for safe driving and it is possible that the current tests available might not be rigorous enough. The study also showed that men were nearly twice as bad as women when it came to having eye tests. Even more worrying is that some people drive without glasses for reasons of vanity. Because 90 per cent of the sensory information that reaches a driver’s brain does so through the eyes, it is obvious that if we cannot see properly, we are putting others at risk.

In certain parts of Europe, laws have been put in place that force drivers to have an eye test every year and carry a spare pair of glasses in their cars. Stiffer penalties should be imposed for anyone who is involved in an accident, who has willfully driven, knowing their eyesight is defective.

If you know of someone who has poor vision but still drives, please make it your duty to advise them to get an eye test. Remember: driving with poor eyesight is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com

Tel: 784 456-1210