Road Safety Week Blog
Keep your eyes safely on the road
Having good eyesight is one of the most basic requirements for safe driving. Research shows that poor vision increases a driver’s risk of crashing as it limits their ability to recognise hazards and affects reaction times.1
Although an eye test plays a part in being granted your driver’s licence in that you must be able to read a number plate from 20 meters away, eyesight can change over time, especially as we get older. This is why it is so important to have regular eye tests, not only to address any changes in vision, but also because an optician can spot sight-threatening conditions that you may not be aware of, such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma.
Research in London during lockdown found that cyclists and pedestrians faced almost double the risk of being seriously injured on city roads, caused by drivers’ increasing their speed due to a fall in congestion2 - with similar effects potentially happening in other cities around the country.
Specsavers created a virtual reality (VR) experience to replicate what it’s like to look through the eyes of someone with untreated glaucoma. Participants were then asked to navigate their way as if driving along a road while avoiding potential hazards.
Results from the VR experience showed that driving with glaucoma increases the risk of a crash occurring by 11%. On average, people also reacted to hazards 0.3 seconds slower with a slight visual impairment compared to clear vision and this delay in reaction time could make the difference between avoiding a hazard and hitting it.
We also found that nearly a quarter of people who used the VR had not had an eye test within the last two years or longer. The College of Optometrists recommends everyone has an eye test every two years or more often if your optician recommends it.