Healthy eyesight for the road

Eye Test

It might sound obvious but as a driver your eyesight is a pretty important tool. That vehicle you’re in control of is a large intimidating beast and those around you have faith that you’re fit to handle it. They have respect and belief in your ability but, if you start to suspect that maybe it’s time to check your vision it needs to be sorted sooner rather than later.

There can be a few signs that suggest that an eye test would be a good idea. If you need glasses or contact lenses in order to continue to keep doing your job safely then so be it. If you’re a driver the following questions are a good place to start.

  • Do you have difficulty seeing at night?
  • Do you see halos around lights?
  • Do you get frequent headaches?
  • Do your eyes often feel strained or fatigued?
  • Do you experience double vision sometimes?

Assess your vision

In addition it’s worth establishing whether you have difficulty with your distance vision or seeing object close by. Assessing your vision by your ability to make out road signs can be a good test that is easy to do regularly. If you begin to experience any kind of blurring it’s worth taking a test.

Your eyes are constantly changing as you age. It may be that if you wear glasses already, maybe for watching TV or reading, it’s possible that eventually you’ll eventually require assistance all the time rather than just for specific tasks. Strangely, if you already wear glasses or contact lenses it’s also possible that your vision can improve as you get older. You won’t suddenly regain perfect vision but you may experience enough of an improvement to require that your prescription alters.

High vision standards

Professionals such as lorry and bus drivers have to meet higher standards than other drivers. Whereas the general rule in the UK dictates that drivers must be able to read a modern car number plate (made after 1 September 2001) from 20 metres away, professional drivers must have vision of at least 6/7.5 (0.8) in their best eye and at least 6/60 (0.1) in the other eye, with glasses with corrective power not more than (+) 8 dioptres or with contact lenses of any strength. They must have a horizontal visual field of at least 160° degrees, at least 70° left and right and 30° up and down, and no visual defects within the central 30°.

Drivers are also required to report certain conditions to the DVLA. These include eye conditions glaucoma and cataracts as well as diabetes and heart disease.

For those who do have to wear glasses or contact lenses when driving the following tips are useful –

  • Always wear an up-to-date pair of glasses or contact lenses while driving, if they are needed.
  • Keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle. In France and some other European countries drivers who wear glasses must, by law, carry a spare pair in the car.
  • Don’t use tinted lenses for night driving.
  • If possible, have an anti-reflection coat on your glasses.
  • Keep your car windscreen clean, inside and out.