No apologies for returning to this subject. Speaking as an almost lifelong specoid I am very conscious of my eyesight and how it can change. Speaking as a motoring writer I understand how important eyesight is when it comes to driving. I get an annual eye-test without fail. But enough about me, what about your eyes?
Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers of all ages to ensure they get regular eye tests. For any driver, taking care of your eyes helps show a commitment to road safety, especially because changes in vision can often be so slow that we are not aware of them.
That’s a crucial point; as your eyes deteriorate the process is generally so slow that your brain and vision will simply adjust to compensate. Even if you believe your eyes are falcon-like in their acuity, it is still worth a check-up. Look at this way: If you have a shunt and your insurance company can show that you are closely related to Mr Magoo, how likely do you think it will be that they will cough up? Exactly.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE said: “Our eyes are the most important sense we have when it comes to driving. Around 90% of the information we process is visual, so what we see is a fundamental element of our decision making. Many of us take our eyesight for granted, so the tendency is to ignore eye health. Our eyes can develop diseases in their own right, or may be affected by other conditions such as diabetes.
Motoring organisations have long argued the case for compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers of all ages. The present situation relies on individual drivers taking responsibility for their own eye health and when you see some of the UK’s motoring plonkers on the roads you have to wonder if it shouldn’t be compulsory.
Finances are often a worry and the concern is that eye tests can be expensive. Anyone who has ever been to the dentist will attest to how much even the NHS services can cost but glasses need not cost a fortune. Certain groups can get tested free – if you have glaucoma in the immediate family bloodline for example. People of pensionable age – where incidences of bad eyesight might reasonably be expected to be prevalent – test free as well.
Also, the days of costly spectacles are long gone. Many supermarkets have opticians in-store and prices can be very low. Styles of cheap frames have now moved way beyond the dorky specs of old. These days you can get them tinted to use as sunnies too.
Always carry a spare pair of glasses with you, especially on long journeys or when driving abroad. In some foreign countries a spare pair is a legal requirement and you can be fined if you do not carry the mandatory extra specs.
The need for spectacles is often most telling at night, or perhaps more specifically, at dusk. If you find yourself having to peer into the gloaming then it’s off to the eye doctor for you. Remember, the police have the power to require a driver, at any time, to undertake an eyesight test in good daylight. The maximum penalty for driving with defective sight is £1000, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. Nobody wants that for the sake of a few quid. Geoff Maxted