Your life and eyes 7 min read

Common eye conditions that can affect your road skills

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Whether you’re a driver, a cyclist, a biker or a pedestrian, your vision plays a fundamental role in your journey when on the road. However, eye conditions can easily creep up on us and it’s even common to not recognise the symptoms as they slowly progress. In our latest blog post we will discuss common eye conditions that may affect you on the road and what you can do to manage them successfully.

Our eyes change as we age

Most of us will need glasses sooner or later as we develop age related long-sightedness —  where the ability to read the small print on phones, books or newspapers is affected. Changes in your vision like this can be worrying, especially if you’ve had perfect vision all your life. Thankfully, there is plenty of help available to ensure that you can carry on doing the things you love, whether it is driving for work or leisure, riding your bike, or going for a walk.

The simplest and most effective thing you can do is regularly attending eye examinations. This will allow your optometrist to prescribe the right lenses that will correct your vision and get you back on the road without any safety concerns stemming from poor vision. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most common eye conditions that can impact road skills, and what you can do to correct them. 

Short-sightedness 

Short-sightedness, also known as myopia, is where you struggle to see clearly in the distance. This is something that often develops in childhood or during the teenage years and can continue to progress through life. 

If you are short-sighted, and if uncorrected, it’s possible that you’re not seeing well enough in the distance to be within legal limits for driving. Not clearly reading road signs or spotting potential hazards are other serious factors that could impact your driving safety. This can easily be overcome by correcting short-sightedness with the right prescription lenses. 

During a routine eye test your optician will recommend single vision lenses to correct your myopia. Your lenses can be enhanced for driving with a lens coating. Crizal is an anti-reflective coating that enhances your lenses so that you see more clearly through your lenses by reducing unwanted glare, ghost images and reflections.

If you drive at night, short-sightedness can have a serious impact on your driving ability simply due to the fact that low light conditions affect visibility. Keep on top of your eye tests to ensure optimal driving safety. 

Long-sightedness

Long-sightedness is the popular term for hypermetropia, also known as hyperopia. It means that the muscles inside your eyes work harder to focus on things such as newsprint or your mobile phone. It can cause blurred vision and eye strain. When you’re on the road, you may struggle to see your sat nav, dials or read directions. If you suffer from long-sightedness  your optometrist will prescribe glasses that can help you see more clearly — with less effort and strain.

Blurred dials in a car

You can enhance your glasses for long-sightedness with Crizal so that you receive optimal visual comfort and to ensure that your lenses for enhanced for driving conditions such as low light and reflections from the numerous light sources you face when on the road.

Age-related long-sightedness

Commonly known as presbyopia, age-related long-sightedness will affect all of us at some stage in our lives. Normally beginning at 40 years old, the lens inside your eye will become less flexible, resulting in the difficulty to clearly seeing small print close up. You might initially start holding your phone further and further away to see the characters more clearly, but it will still impact your vision on fixed close up items such as your sat nav. Presbyopia can also affect your ability to adjust your view from the dashboard to the road ahead.

There are different types of spectacle lenses available to help you with this; ready-readers, such as single vision reading glasses and progressive lenses, such as varifocal lenses.

Single vision reading glasses are not suitable for road use as they only correct your near vision, but across the whole lens. This will impact your ability to see clearly in the distance.

Varifocal lenses allow you to glance at your sat nav and dashboard before switching your gaze to the road. Varilux varifocal lenses allow you to see far, near and everything in between with ease and they are the number 1 varifocal brand recommended by eye care professionals(1). There are several varifocal options within the Varilux range, including Varilux Road Pilot, a varifocal specifically designed for the road that has been enhanced to give larger peripheral fields of vision.

Astigmatism

Very few of us have eyes which are perfectly round. In fact, most people’s eyes are slightly rugby ball-shaped, this is known as astigmatism. It can blur your view of the road, and, for some people, may mean that without glasses you wouldn’t be legal to drive. 

Astigmatism can be corrected with the right lenses, allowing you to see clearly when you are out and about, whatever your preferred mode of transport. This is a condition your optometrist will easily spot during a routine eye test. 

Light sensitivity

Many road users are faced with bright light throughout the day, no matter the season, weather or time of day. Reflections off of flat surfaces such as the road, puddles and car bonnets can increase your risk of being dazzled. This can be created by multiple light sources; the sun, street lights, head lights, even break-lights. 

Flare of lights from rear brake lights

Thankfully, this is easily correctable. A good anti-reflective coating, such as Crizal Drive, can help with artificial light, especially at night time.

Polarised technology, such as Xperio Polarised can help to eliminate blinding glare from the sun when you’re driving all day long.

You can also wear lenses with light intelligent technology that is suitable for use in a car. Transitions XTRActive, for instance, darkens your lenses when activated by the sun even when you’re in the car. Great for reducing light sensitivity in bright conditions and being clear when the sun goes down.

The first step to vision correction falls with identifying the reasons why you might be struggling visually on the road. From short-sightedness, to eye fatigue, to light sensitivity, do make sure you visit your optician to discover the reason behind any discomfort. 

Whatever your visual needs, as a result, Essilor has developed an online quiz to help you to tailor your perfect lens based on your unique lifestyle and road safety requirements. If you want to feel safer ‘on the road’ vision follow the link and choose the lens that are right for you, your health and your environment.

 

Take our driving and vision quiz

Take the quiz

 

(1) Varilux, #1 progressive lens brand worldwide. Euromonitor, 2017 data; Retail value amongst spectacle lenses' category, brands representing progressive lenses.