Over time our eyesight deteriorates and previously strong vision can become poor. If problems are left unaddressed, they can lead to poor reaction times to unexpected hazards or the behaviour of other road users.
IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving & Riding Standards, Richard Gladman, advises:
- Get regular checks. Eyesight can deteriorate over time without you noticing. If you are having to move closer to the television to read the titles clearly, or have noticed even a slight deterioration with your eyes, we recommend a visit to the optician for a check-up; after all, we should do this on a regular basis (every two years) anyway and it’s free for the over-60s.
- Take a break, eyes get tired. If you are travelling for long periods, take a break every two hours or every 100 miles – whichever is sooner. This will refresh you and your eyes, keeping you alert.
- Driving at night can be the most problematic area as our eyes age. No matter how eagle-eyed we may think we are, it is a scientific fact that our eyes become less sensitive to light. Avoiding night-time driving is a wise precaution if you are starting to struggle to see clearly after dusk.
- Know the law. You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
- Use this article to test yourself, if you struggle to read it. get checked out straight away.
- Keep a pair of sunglasses in the car in all seasons; low sun on a wet road will make you wish you hadn’t packed them away after the summer.
- Stay hydrated. Water is very good for keeping you hydrated and is also good for your eyes, with the added bonus of helping you maintain concentration while driving.
“Deteriorating eyesight can often be a sign of other health problems, so a check-up is a good idea,” Richard Gladman said. “If you have eye correction prescribed for driving, make sure you use it. Not having your glasses is a poor excuse when you have had an accident. And as a little aside, how often do you clean your glasses? Even a pristine windscreen will seem dirty if the lenses are covered in fingerprints.”