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  • Writer's pictureRay-Lewis Opticians

Seeing the road ahead

Driving is a challenging activity at any time, but it’s even harder if your vision isn’t optimal. While legal eligibility to drive is determined by basic tests like reading a number plate from 20 metres away, there are many factors underpinning safe motoring.

Official rules on drivers’ vision are surprisingly modest. For instance, someone with monocular vision (sight in only one eye) can drive without even notifying DVLA, providing they have a normal field of vision in the other eye. Patients recovering from cataract surgery can get behind the wheel as soon as they can pass the 20-metre registration plate test. The key principle is always clarity of vision.

Whether you wear glasses or contact lenses, always ensure you’ve got clear sight before getting behind the wheel. It’s potentially not safe to drive if you have an eye infection or an inability to turn your head fully due to muscular pain or a stiff neck. Keep a spare pair of up-to-date prescription sunglasses in the glovebox, as dazzle on wet roads can affect your vision; sunlight strobing through fences or trees is another potential distraction alleviated by sunglasses.

Finally, vehicle maintenance is also important. Regularly top up windscreen washer reservoirs with a mixture of water and screenwash fluid, since peering through dirty glass could lead to eye strain and headaches. Repair windscreen cracks or chips, replace wiper blades as soon as they start scraping across the glass, and pull sun visors down if low sun is compromising visibility.

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