Drivers ducking eye tests and not wearing glasses

When did you last have your eyes tests? Picture: Denise Bradley

When did you last have your eyes tests? Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

New figures show that many drivers are ducking eye tests – with some who need glasses at the wheel often declining to use them.

The poll, by road safety charity Brake, found that as many as 26pc of drivers had not had an eye test in the last two years, 9pc had not visited an optician for five years or more, while 3pc had not had eye checks for more than a decade.

The charity's findings were backed up by an online poll carried out by the Eastern Daily Press.

Our poll showed that while 56pc of drivers had had their eyes tested within the last year, 6pc had not had their eyes tested for more than 10 years.

The charity's findings were no surprise to Jan Knight, an associate specialist ophthalmic surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She said: 'I see several patients at the clinic every day, who still drive, but whose eyesight, when we test them, is below the legal standard for driving. We have to advise them of the findings, and that they should stop driving, but we cannot do anything about it.


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'We also see patients with severe eye problems, who are in denial. By the time they come to us, it can be too late. You should get an eye test every two years, but if there's a history of eye disease in your family, or you have diabetes, then it should be every year.'

One man taking part in our poll, who did not wish to be named, said: 'As a long-term spectacle wearer I know the importance of having a good eye test with an accurate prescription properly made up.

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'This is not something one can take for granted in every optician business. I think proof of an eye test and dispensed lenses, if needed, should be a requirement of renewing a vehicle licence, alongside the MOT and insurance.'

The poll by Brake, which also involved insurance company RSA and Specsavers, also found that, of those who need glasses for driving, 1pc had driven without them several times in the past 12 months while 2pc had driven without them once a month or more in the past 12 months.

To raise awareness among drivers about their responsibilities, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is today launching an online education campaign.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: 'Being a driver is a huge responsibility, and means you need to look after your own health and fitness to drive as well as making sure your vehicle is roadworthy.

'If your vision isn't up to scratch you are posing an enormous risk on roads, as being able to see properly is fundamental to being a good driver. Your eyesight can deteriorate rapidly without you noticing, and at the wheel that can be lethal.'

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