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Optometrists warn over drivers with poor eyesight

Research suggests almost half of optometrists have seen a patient in the last month who drives despite failing eyesight tests.

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There is growing concern about the number of drivers with inadequate vision (Joe Giddens/PA)

There is growing concern about the number of drivers with inadequate vision (Joe Giddens/PA)

There is growing concern about the number of drivers with inadequate vision (Joe Giddens/PA)

Almost half (44%) of UK optometrists have seen a patient in the last month who drives despite being told their vision is below the legal standard, according to new research.

The Association of Optometrists (AOP), which commissioned the survey of 1,246 of its members, claimed the findings show the Government must toughen the law on vision testing for motorists.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of a driver’s vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a number plate from 20 metres.

Once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to tell the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.

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Learner drivers must read a number plate from 20 metres (Yui Mok/PA)

Learner drivers must read a number plate from 20 metres (Yui Mok/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Learner drivers must read a number plate from 20 metres (Yui Mok/PA)

The AOP wants drivers to be required to take a comprehensive vision check to prove they meet the legal standard when they first apply for a licence and every subsequent 10 years.

A survey of 1,386 drivers found that 42% say they would continue to drive even if they were told their vision could not be corrected to meet the legal standard.

Optometrist and AOP spokesman Henry Leonard said: “It is shocking that so many drivers are overlooking the importance of good vision.

“Sight change can often be gradual, and people may not notice changes that could affect their ability to drive.

“This campaign is about reminding drivers that regular visits to their optometrist are the best way to make sure they meet the legal standard for driving and help make our roads safer.”

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Having good vision is absolutely essential for safe driving.

“It is vital that motorists have their eyes checked by an optometrist every two years, or if they notice any changes to their vision.”

Some 262 people were injured in crashes on Britain’s roads last year where uncorrected or defective eyesight was a contributory factor, Department for Transport figures show.

A crackdown on drivers with defective eyesight by roads police officers from three forces in September saw every motorist who was pulled over having to pass the number plate vision test.

Anyone who failed had their driving licence immediately revoked.

PA