A 2013 World Health Organisation report found around 1.25 million lives are lost to road accidents every year and close to 50 million people are injured. Ready for another shocking statistic? 1 in 5 drivers report that they can’t see the road very clearly while driving, according to a study on the social and economic impact of poor vision in 2012 by the Vision Impact Institute.
According to a 2014 fact sheet by the World Health Organisation, 80% of all visual impairment can easily be prevented or corrected. That being said, we can assume that a large number of road-related fatalities can be prevented just by optimising vision.
As such, we want to discuss how every individual on the road — be it a driver, biker, cyclist or pedestrian — can have a different set of vision needs and offer insight into how each can be safer on the road accordingly.
Visual parameters that affect road safety
To start, let’s breakdown the existing visual parameters that influence road safety and why.
Blurred vision may be caused by cataracts or refractive errors such as myopia (short-sighted), hypermetropia (long-sighted), presbyopia and astigmatism.
A minimum binocular visual acuity of 6/12 and the ability to see a number plate well at 20m away is required to legally drive on the road, so that you are able to read road signs, view static and moving objects at various distances and register obstacles on the road.
Binocular vision and depth perception
To be ‘road safe’, an adequate judgement of space and distance is crucial. Binocular, or 3-D vision, may be impaired when there is a squint present or when both eyes have a vastly different prescription.
Poor vision in low-light conditions can severely hamper safe driving. Low-light and night driving are two very obvious examples where we need our vision to be sharp.
Car headlights, for example, are the main cause of discomfort at night. If you are a glasses wearer reflections can be created by your lenses, so it’s important to enhance your lenses with driving lens coating to reduce the impact of glare.
In order to drive safely, an individual should have a clear horizontal visual field across a visual field of 120 degrees with no significant defect within the central 20 degrees from fixation (i.e when you’re directly looking at a target in question)
Damage to your visual field can be caused by a number of different conditions. For example, blind spots or tunnel vision resulting from glaucoma, retinal detachment or optic neuropathy can severely interfere with a person’s ability to drive safely on the road.
Blinding glare from sunlight during daytime driving and glare from artificial lights while travelling at night are some of the most common causes of visual discomfort among road users. The problem may be further compounded in the presence of cataracts, corneal scars or glaucoma. In addition to wearing reflection free glasses, car drivers must ensure that their windscreen and their glasses are clean, as dust particles, smudges and stains can create further glare.
How can you ensure optimal vision and road safety?
The good news is that most visual concerns stem from either environmental factors or eye conditions and most can be overcome with the right pair of glasses. We have developed a unique vision assessment quiz, which gathers information on the quality of your vision for road use, that will configure a spectacle solution best suited to your individual needs.
Further to this, here are some basic tips you might want to consider in order to make the roads safer for yourself as well as others.
Get timely eye check-ups
An eye check-up is the most convenient and inexpensive option. It’s recommended that you have a comprehensive eye examination at least once every two years, unless advised otherwise by your optician, to monitor any changes in vision.
Wear recommended spectacle lenses
Whether you are a driver, biker, cyclist or a pedestrian, it really is important to wear the correct lenses for your prescription while on the road. The right lenses should not only enhance your visual clarity but also protect your eye health by shielding them from harmful UV light.
Shield your eyes from glare
Glare from car lights and reflective surfaces not only cause visual discomfort but also compromise your field of vision due to squinting. Therefore, a lens coating with anti-glare technology, such as Crizal Drive, can make driving at night infinitely more comfortable for you(1).
During daylight, polarised lenses (sunglasses) or Transitions lenses (glasses that tint dark after exposure to sunlight) are recommended to protect your eyes from bothersome sunlight.
Always remember that road safety starts with good vision. It is our duty to ensure that we do everything in our individual capacities to minimise road mishaps and make roads safer for everyone around. Do try out our lens assessment and take the first step towards your optimum vision and safer driving.
(1) Up to 90% less reflections when driving at night vs. a standard hard coat lens with no anti-reflective coating.