By Michael Hutton
Monovision contact lenses could be the perfect solution for older drivers to ensure they can comply with the vision requirements for safe driving. The UK driving test currently includes an eyesight check which sets a distance of 20m from which motorists must be able to read a car number plate although it is now being proposed that this distance will be reduced to 17.5m which takes account of changes in number plate font size and follows advice from the Government's Honorary Medical Panel. For short-sighted older drivers in their 40's and upwards who encounter the age-related problem of presbyopia (long-sightedness), using a monovision ortho-k corrective lens could provide an ideal solution to avoid needing multiple pairs of glasses.
The proposed change to the eyesight test is part of wider changes to the rules on drivers' medical standards on eyesight, epilepsy and diabetes in the wake of an EU directive which were announced for consultation until 28 April 2011 by Transport Minister Mike Penning. New applicants for a driving licence will have to meet the new standard when it comes into force and it will also affect drivers who have to sign a self-declaration once they reach 70 years of age to confirm they are fit to drive and have sufficiently good eyesight. Drivers involved in an accident may find their insurance cover negatively affected if their eyesight is shown not to satisfy minimum standards so it is be essential to have prescriptions checked annually whilst for older drivers the option of monovision contact lenses provides an excellent new vision correction approach.
A recent survey on behalf of insurers Swinton Commercial highlighted that almost 20% of van drivers had not had eye tests for a considerable period of time. This almost certainly means that many of these drivers will be on the road with inadequate vision and Swinton warned that they and their employers may be at risk in the event of an accident. Such a stark statistic is also borne out by a study in Spain which revealed that around 25% of Spanish drivers have at least one problem with their eyesight which compromised their ability to drive safely. In the light of studies like this, Governments recognise the importance of promoting the need for regular eye tests and ensuring that appropriate vision correction treatments such as monovision contact lenses are adopted by drivers.
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