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All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Driving’
In the U.K. as elsewhere there are minimum eyesight standards required to obtain a driving licence. This requirement is checked when the person sits their practical driving test -they need to be able to read a car number plated at 65 feet, 20 metres. However, this check is done once (unless you need to resit the driving test), and from then on, it is up to the individual to inform the DVLA if there are any reasons their sight, or other health issues might cause driving problems.
But how many people will willingly advise the DVLA?
I once saw a young lady in the Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology in Glasgow. I was measuring her field of vision using a Humphrey Field Analyser, which checks peripheral (round about) vision. She had a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which caused her to have severely restricted peripheral vision. As I recall she had about a central 10 degree of vision, but little or no peripheral vision. This is what “tunnel vision” is.
This young mother knew that she should not be driving, but she still was. She admitted that she would clip a few kerbs and wing mirrors, and would NEVER drive with her kids in the car. It was unsaid, but I am sure she was aware that there were plenty other peoples kids around who were not in her car. She had been advised not to drive, but it was up to her to involve DVLA about that.
I have complained a good few times about the implementation of the updated Irish vision standards for driving, though these varying requirements now seem to have settled down, pretty much to what they were before the changes.
But at least there is an enforced standard here, which is what the UK is thinking to implement, so everyone on the road in Ireland should have adequate eyesight.
In the UK it is national glaucoma awareness week.
The focus for National Glaucoma Awareness Week, 8-14 June 2015 is on driving and encouraging people to have regular eye health checks to ensure that they are safe to drive. It is only with regular eye health checks through a local optometrist (optician), that people will know if their driving vision is affected. This is particularly important with glaucoma, as it has no symptoms in the early stages. But, with early detection and continued treatment people will often retain useful sight for life and be safe to drive for many years
Driving and our ability and safety to do so, is something that many people take for granted. Yet, how many people have a regular eye health check to ensure that their vision is accurate? Even if a person can see a number plate at 20 metres, how many have been tested for glaucoma which affects vision?
There is an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK, but 300,000 are undiagnosed. As there are no early symptoms it is vital that people over the age of 40 have regular eye health checks every one or two years. Advanced glaucoma leads to serious loss of sight. Comments Russell Young, CEO of the International Glaucoma Association “the majority of us wouldn’t take our cars on the road without an annual service and MOT yet, we are happy to put ourselves behind the wheel without knowing if we can see safely to drive. A visit to the optometrist will quickly check our safety and detect if there is any risk of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a complex condition, in that the brain fills in what the eyes cannot see. Many people will insist their vision is perfectly normal even when there is significant loss of vision”.
“Around 10 per cent of the calls we receive to our helpline are from people worried about whether their glaucoma is going to affect their ability to drive. Yet the majority of those that report to the DVLA will not need further tests, and of those that do most will be found safe to drive”, Young continues.
Glaucoma causes misty, patchy or blurred vision in places. It can cause people to miss the unexpected such as a person crossing the road, a cyclist passing, or a vehicle merging into traffic. The only way to know for sure about your vision and your safety on the roads is to have regular eye health checks every one to two years, particularly if you are over the age of 40.
“It is important people know if they do have glaucoma that has caused damage to vision in both eyes, they are required by law to report their condition to the DVLA. If they fail to do so they can face a criminal conviction, a fine up to £1000 and may be uninsured to drive. The good news about glaucoma is with ongoing treatment people can protect their vision and most people will retain useful sight for life”, Young concludes.
Yesterday was the annual AGM of the Association of Optometrists, and also a study day- all Optometrists have to undertake a certain amount of Continuous Education and Training. At the moment this is voluntary, but will probably become compulsory in due course.
One of the lectures at the study day was about driving and vision, a subject that has become very topical of late. Particularly interesting I thought were a couple of videos which tracked the eye movements of Glaucoma patients when tested in a Hazard Perception Test. It had always been assumed that people who have a visual field deficiency will scan around, and move their head more to compensate for their problem, but as is mentioned here, the issue is that they may not even realise that they have a problem, and even if they are aware of an issue, they do not see the problem. If you don’t see something, you don’t think “I didn’t see that” – you just don’t see it.
The Hazard Perception test used eye tracking to follow the “Point of Regard” of normals and Glaucoma patients, also measured were reaction times – when would they hit the brakes? The study found that people with Glaucoma do not scan around more than normals – indeed one of the videos below show that they remain fixed almost exclusively on the car ahead, failing to notice the hazard of a car pulling out ahead, until the car they are following reacts to the threat.
Video Number 2 shows the Glaucoma patient’s Point of Regard in Blue, the normals are shown in red, it is quite noticeable how little the Glaucoma patient looks at other aspects of the driving scene – they completley fail to look at the pedestrian with the buggy, something all the normals are obviously worried about.
Video number 3 has superimposed onto it a representation of the patients field of vision- the more dense the areas of field loss, the darker the overlay. (It moves around because its position is relative to the fixation point, the blue dot. Remember that a Glaucoma patient will not see this blackness, they will just have blank areas, their brain will fill in the details as best it can.
The Glaucoma losses featured in Video 2 and 3 are mild to moderate – according to UK standards (where this study was done), this patient would still be legal to drive.
This shows that even if you do not feel that you have a problem, you should have your eyes regularly checked!
The full articles are available to read at these two links;