Keep your eyes safely on the road

Road safety week

FIVE people die every day on the UK’s roads on average and someone is injured every four minutes, with drivers’ eyesight often playing a contributory factor.

FIVE people die every day on the UK’s roads[1] on average and someone is injured every four minutes[2], with drivers’ eyesight often playing a contributory factor. Research shows that poor vision increases a driver’s risk of crashing as it limits their ability to recognise hazards and impacts reaction time[3].

That is why this Road Safety Week (November 16-22), road safety charity Brake has partnered with Specsavers to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our sight, particularly when driving.

Specsavers clinical services director Giles Edmonds says: ‘Having good eyesight is one of the most basic requirements of safe driving. It means drivers will be able to spot potential dangers, see pedestrians and other vehicles, read road signs and judge speed, distance and movement. Without this, there can be catastrophic consequences on the road.

‘While an eye test plays a part in being granted your driver’s licence in that you must be able to read a number plate from 20 meters away – eyesight can change over time, especially as we get older. This is why it is so important to have regular eye checks, not only to address any changes in short or long-sightedness but also because an optician can spot sight-threatening conditions that you may not be aware of, such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma.’

Research in London during lockdown found that cyclists and pedestrians faced almost double the risk of being seriously injured on city roads, caused by drivers’ increasing their speed due to a decrease in congestion[4] – with the same effects potentially happening in other cities throughout the country.

Brake director of campaigns, Joshua Harris, says: ‘It’s self-evident that one of the fundamental for safe driving is good eyesight and being able to see the road ahead clearly. The earlier a driver can spot a hazard on the road, the quicker they will be able to stop and avoid a crash. When it comes to safe driving, good eyesight and safe speed go hand-in-hand, that’s why we’re delighted to be partnering with Specsavers on Road Safety Week 2020 under the theme “No Need to Speed”.’

Mr Edmonds adds: ‘While we want to encourage all drivers to have an up-to-date eye test to ensure that they can see clearly on the road, we also want to help increase pedestrian visibility, which is why many of our stores have been donating high-visibility vests to schools and local community groups.

‘As is evident from the research, vision is vital to help us judge speed and ensure quick reaction times. However, for those who do wear glasses, it is also important to ensure that their lenses are suitable for driving too.’

Top tips for specs-wearing drivers:

  • Specs wearers may benefit from having their lenses coated with Specsavers UltraClear SuperClean – an anti-reflection and scratch-resistant treatment. It also has the added benefits of being water-repellent, smudge-resistant and anti-static. This means that lenses have less reflections, attract less dust, stay cleaner for longer and are easier to clean, which helps give clarity while driving day or night.
  • Specsavers SuperDrive varifocal lenses have been specially designed with driving in mind. These lenses have a super wide distance and middle-distance zone, to help give you a wide view of what is ahead as well as dashboard and wing mirrors. The lens also comes with Specsavers UltraClear SuperClean smart treatment, which helps to reduce reflections and dazzle caused by car headlights and streetlamps.
  • Polarised lenses are a good option for driving in daylight as they eliminate glare from horizontal surfaces, such as roads, water and snow. They also offer 100% UV protection, improve contrast and help ease the strain on your eyes, so they are particularly good for driving in bright conditions.
  • Although tinted lenses, polarised lenses or photochromic lenses can help minimise glare, there are some important things to note when wearing these types of lenses while driving. Photochromic lenses — which darken when the light is bright as they react to the ultraviolet (UV) light – will help alleviate the effects of glare. Most modern vehicles have windscreens containing a filter which blocks UV light and therefore they don’t darken as effectively whilst driving during the day, so a tinted or polarised lens would be more suitable if driving in bright conditions. However, with polarised and tinted lenses, while more effective during the day, they could pose a danger at night, darkening the road making it more difficult to spot potential hazards.
  • If you have an astigmatism, night driving can be especially difficult as the pupil dilates to let in more light, which can lead to vision looking even more blurred. Many people with astigmatism also have trouble with light reflections from cars and streetlamps, which can cause them to squint, making it even more difficult to concentrate on the road. While anti-glare lenses and other lens options in spectacles can help, for contact lens wearers with sizable astigmatism it is important to correct that by wearing toric contact lenses.

Make sure to discuss any difficulties with your optician so that they can ensure you have the right lenses to suit your needs and lifestyle. For more information on safe driving visit or for information in different lens options.

Published: 18th November 2020