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Looking after your eyes is all part of keeping safe on the road

friends having fun in the carRegular eye examinations are more than just one of those things you do. It is important to ensure your eyes are healthy and that if you need glasses for driving you wear them. Did you know that an eye examination can tell you a lot about your general health, as well as your eyesight?

How does your eyesight affect your driving?

Almost 3,000 road casualties a year are attributed to poor eyesight. When you are learning to drive, and during your driving test, you should be asked to read a licence plate from a distance of 20 metres away, but will not have to provide anything else to prove your eyesight is ok. While this is all that is legally required, it doesn’t necessarily mean your eyes are up to the standard required for driving, as it doesn’t test your visual field (side vision) or contrast sensitivity which could inhibit your night driving.

When should you get your eyes tested?

According to the NHS, optometrists recommend you get your eyes tested every two years, whether you currently wear glasses or not. In some cases, you may be advised to have examinations more frequently, for example if you suffer from diabetes, have a family history of glaucoma or are aged 70 or over. You will be told after the test whether or not you need to wear glasses, and for what situations you require them. For example, you might need to wear them while driving, but not while reading, or perhaps the other way around. Make sure that your optician knows you are a driver, as some will offer additional tests for your visual field and contrast sensitivity if you are.

It’s always worth checking if you are entitled to an NHS optical voucher, for example if you are aged 17 or 18 and still in full-time education or are receiving income support. If you work, you may find that your employer belongs to a scheme offering free or discounted eye tests and glasses. 

What else can an eye test show?

You might be surprised at some of the other health problems that can be detected through a simple eye examination. While you will want to get these checked out further for the sake of your general health, as a driver it is also your responsibility not to take to the wheel if you are suffering from a health condition that could cause you to have a medical episode while driving.

An eye test can pick up signs for a variety of conditions, ranging from hypertension (high blood pressure) through to cancer. While a condition such as hypertension may not sound like it would affect your driving, if left untreated, it could lead to a heart attack or stroke. The consequences of suffering one of these while driving could be devastating, not just to yourself, but to other road users too.

By taking care of your eyes, you can greatly reduce your chances of being involved in a collision on the roads. It is worth getting your eyes frequently tested however old you are, and it is just as an important part of your driving for a young person as young drivers car insurance is