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Focussing on safety: top tips to check your eyesight

Can you read a number plate from 20 metres? Is it getting more difficult to focus when you’re driving? Perhaps it’s time to check your sight.


Can you read a number plate from 20 metres in good daylight? Have you been suffering from headaches or eye strain? Is it getting more difficult to focus when you’re driving at night? Perhaps it’s time to check your sight.

Questions like those above are all ones that road safety campaigners say drivers should be asking themselves every time they get behind the wheel of their car.

More than 3000 fatal and serious injury collisions every year on the UK’s roads are blamed on drivers having poor eyesight, says safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist. And now they are calling for drivers to come clean about their sight and make sure they have good vision for their journeys.

The group has released a line-up of simple tips to help make sure your vision is up to scratch, saying it’s vital to reduce the number of people of all ages who drive with defective vision and contribute to the needless number of road accidents each year.

“We are concerned that there are too many people driving with defective eyesight which has deteriorated to a dangerous level,” says Neil Worth, GEM chief executive. “Figures suggest between two and three per cent of drivers are using the roads with vision that fails to meet the minimum standards.

“We urge everyone to prioritise safety and ensure they have a proper eye examination with an optician every two years. Eye tests allow professionals to identify and correct any problems, meaning the risks of driving are reduced and the road environment is safer.”

The current test requires a driver to be able to read a vehicle number plate at a distance of 20 metres (65 feet) in good daylight. But under the present regulations, it’s down to individual responsibility for drivers to declare themselves fit to drive – whether that’s a long distance delivery or a short town run to a customer.

“The problem is that we are unlikely to notice many of the changes to our vision,” adds Worth. “It takes a professional examination to reveal changes to our visual acuity, peripheral awareness, eye co-ordination, depth perception, ability to focus and colour vision.

“That’s why having an eye test every two years is a key part of being a responsible driver, whatever your age, just to ensure there are no safety concerns about your vision and to deal with any issues at an early stage.”

Eye tests are free to those aged 60 and over, under 16 years of age and anyone aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education. For others, an eye test typically costs less than £30.

Eye eye! Top tips for sight health

  1. It’s vital, as a driver, to ensure you have good vision to be as safe as possible on the road
  2. If your vision has deteriorated, take steps to ensure it is corrected by glasses or contact lenses as necessary
  3. Changes in vision can be so slow that you may not even notice at first. That’s why it’s important to let a professional optician give your eyes a thorough examination every two years
  4. Early signs that your sight may be changing include eye strain, unusual headaches and difficulty in seeing at night or when light conditions change
  5. It’s easy to get an eyesight test at your local optician – it’s inexpensive and you may even qualify for a free test

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.
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