RAA Senior Manager Road Safety Charles Mountain says people often assume their vision is up to scratch and don’t notice gradual changes that may reduce visual capacity, especially as they age.
“Recent studies have found there are more than 480,000 people aged over 40 in Australia whose vision is currently too poor for them to drive legally.
“Over three-quarters of these people could have their vision corrected easily with a pair of glasses. In some cases eye diseases can impact our vision and these need to be identified and treated to prevent further vision loss,” said Mr Mountain.
“Good vision is important to be able to easily identify pedestrians, other vehicles or objects on the road and to read road signs.
“Drivers must also identify coloured signals and be able to adapt to different road conditions including fog, rain and poor or bright light. Good vision makes driving in poor weather conditions less stressful.”
The three key attributes for safe driving are good visual acuity, peripheral vision and depth perception and Mr Mountain says the key is regular eye exams to test these attributes and check for eye disease.
Visual acuity (or sharpness of vision) is measured using a standard eye chart with 6/6 regarded as normal. The legal limit for holding a private drivers license is 6/12 or better (using both eyes) which means reading the letters on the eye chart twice as large as those on the 6/6 line.
Peripheral or side vision is important to enable drivers to see pedestrians, cyclists and other objects on the roadside and depth perception is essential for judging how far away vehicles and objects are and the gaps between yourself and other vehicles.
“Vision standards are more stringent for drivers of commercial vehicles than for private drivers. Older drivers also need to be more vigilant as age related eye problems like cataracts can develop so slowly that they may be unaware their vision is declining.”
“Drivers of all ages must take responsibility for their eye health – so they can keep themselves and others safe on our roads,” says Mr Mountain.
The first free member eye screen is at RAA’s Mile End shop, Thursday November 29, 9.30am – 2.30pm. Just drop in and a Laubman and Pank optometrist will screen your eye health and recommend the right eye-care for you and your lifestyle, answering any questions you might have along the way. They’ve been caring for eyes since 1908 – so you’ll be in safe hands.
Go to www.raa.com.au/L&P for more information.