A recent study has revealed a worrying trend in the number of people with vision difficulties who continue to drive. Over the Christmas period, it was estimated 17 million motorists would be hitting the roads as they travelled to visit loved ones. Around 1 in 10 of those drivers could have been driving with vision below the legal standard.
Every year, it is estimated that 2900 people are killed or injured by a driver with poor eyesight. Here, we look at why motorists are continuing to drive with poor vision, and why the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is calling for tougher regulations.
What does the latest research say?
Several studies have recently been conducted to determine how many motorists are driving around with poor eyesight. The most recent was a survey conducted by AOP, taken by 1033 UK optometrists. Almost half of those surveyed claimed to have seen a patient with vision below the legal standard within the last month, but that continued to drive.
The association also carried out a public poll that revealed 62% were currently putting off an eye test. Almost a fifth of drivers also claimed they hadn’t self-checked their vision as recommended by the DVLA. Additionally, 36% of those who took the survey admitted they were using an out-of-date prescription.
Why more motorists are driving with poor eyesight
So why are so many motorists continuing to drive when they suffer poor eyesight? The ongoing cost of living crisis is said to be a large contributing factor.
Recent research from Specsavers revealed that 62% of patients who wore contact lenses or glasses were putting off visiting the opticians because of the cost-of-living crisis. Worryingly, 31% stated they currently wear eyewear prescribed to family and friends to save money.
These findings show an immediate need to help patients with the cost of their treatment. The AOP is calling for an increase in the value of NHS optical vouchers to help those struggling to afford the cost.
Calls for compulsory eyesight testing
The AOP is also campaigning for compulsory eyesight testing to be introduced in the UK. Currently, you can pass your driving test at age 17, and never have an eyesight test again. This needs to change, and members of the public agree. In 2001, 47% of 2000 people polled said they agreed that the laws on vision should be more rigorous.
Driving with poor vision isn’t just a risk to yourself, it’s also a danger to other drivers and pedestrians. If your vision is impacting your driving ability, you should book an eye health check immediately.