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In late December the RSA wrote to all “stakeholders” regarding the new standards required for driver’s vision. These new tests have been hurriedly implemented, and apparently without enough though put in to which tests would be recommended or acceptable, and what would be the pass mark! Optometrists, as recommended by our Association have implemented these new standards, as far as possible at least, until further clarification allows the full testing to be done.
Some GPs, as recommended by their professional body, The Irish College of General Practitioners, continue to perform the driving sight test to the older standards. The main issue to us is that the new standards involve a full eye examination plus further testing, which is obviously time consuming to check, and therefore more expensive for our clients than the old test. We are obliged to do the new tests this way- we are bound to do what is recommended as best practice by our professional body- the Association of Optometrists.
D502 Driving Sight Test
In late December 2010 the RSA wrote to us informing us of new standards to which applicants had to be tested. These new standards were introduced November 1st, but they were willing to accept old standards until 1st February 2011.
The new standards require a full eye examination plus central and peripheral visual fields, for which we charge more than a standard eye exam. There are some more tests which were introduced, but have been postponed until the RSA can advise us of the required pass marks for the relevant tests.
However, The Irish College of GPs have interpreted the new standards in a different way to the Association of Optometrists- the ICGP are advising their GP members that if the candidate passes the Visual Acuity test- the old test, and there is no reason to suspect any other problem, then that is all they need to do.
From ICGP’s clarification document- “Thus having tested visual acuity if the doctor is happy with the result and has no other reason for concern re vision there is no need to proceed to or arrange testing for twilight vision etc.”
As members of the Association of Optometrists we are bound to take the advice and guidance of our Association, and therefore cannot continue to provide the old Driving Sight Test, as GPs seem to be doing. Indeed, the Association of Optometrists has written to the RSA regarding the GP’s interpretation of the standards, but as yet has not had a response.
As can been clearly read in the pdf form D502 – EYESIGHT STANDARDS – The examination shall cover the following: visual acuity, field of vision, twilight vision, glare and contrast sensitivity, diplopia and other visual functions that can compromise safe driving.
The whole situation is unfortunate- the RSA has had approximately 3 years to put these new standards into place, and their implementation has been at best rather tardy.
If you notice a large discrepancy between what Optometrists and GPs are charging for a Driving Sight Test, this is the reason- for the meantime you can choose to have the test done wherever you can, but in the longer term it seems that because most GPs do not have the necessary equipment, they may be unable to continue to offer these tests, if and when the RSA clarifies its position.