CAN you see to drive?

Naturally our sight tends to deteriorate as we get older, but the findings of a new survey reveal that it isn’t just the elderly who may be suffering with vision issues.

Apparently young drivers also experience problems with their sight which can affect their ability to drive, particularly at night.

New research by specialist eye hospital group, which has a hospital in Bradford and Leeds city centre, reveals 23 per cent of Yorkshire drivers say road signs appear blurry and over a quarter find it hard to see when driving at night.

Thirty seven per cent notice a lot of distracting glare from car lights in the dark, and almost a quarter admit they wish they could see better when driving.

The research also reveals 18 per cent of drivers in the region don’t feel safe driving due to their eyesight while 15 per cent had to get glasses or contacts to pass their driving test in the first place.

Interestingly, young drivers aged 16 to 24 continue to experience vision problems:-

* 44 per cent say road signs are blurry;

* 52 per cent of the same age group notice a lot of glare from lights in the dark

* 39 per cent don’t feel safe driving due to their eyesight.

The findings are certainly cause for concern, according to Shafiq Rehman, eye surgeon at Optegra Eye Hospital Yorkshire.

“This concerning data really worries me – that so many drivers are citing problems with their vision when driving,” says Mr Rehman.

“It is so, so vital that all drivers see well, as we have heard in the news recently, accidents can so easily happen – whether due to a visual distraction like glare from the sun, or indeed glare from other car lights.”

Advanced technologies have opened up a plethora of improvements for those who are struggling with sight issues.

“There is no need for drivers to put themselves and others at risk, technologies have advanced offering a whole plethora of treatments to ensure our vision is as good as it possibly can be,” explains Mr Rehman.

“Whether it’s just updating your specs, getting new contacts, or having surgery, if you are one of the many who complains of blurred vision or glare, please go to your local optician and find out how to improve this.”

To keep our roads safer, there is an argument for drivers having more regular eye tests – in fact 71% of Brits believe all drivers should have regular eye tests in order to keep their driving licence.

Older people in particular whose eyesight may be naturally worsening with age should ensure they keep their eye tests up to date.

There are standards to adhere to too:-

Currently, the DVLA states that you could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the following standards of vision for driving:

* You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving;’

* You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye. This doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards;

* You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

* You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.

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To find out more about Optegra, a specialist provider of opthalmic services in the UK, Czech Republic and Poland, call 0800 358 0825 or visit

Optegra Eye Health Care operates 21 eye hospitals and clinics, bringing together leading edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment.

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By Sally Clifford