New Visual Standards for Driving
In December 2010, the Road Safety Authority issued new visual standards for driving. This was widely welcomed by optometrists, eye specialists and other medical practitioners.
Learners – Full Licence Holders and those over 70
Those applying for the learner permit must now undergo more a comprehensive assessment of their visual ability and must have healthy eyes before getting their permit. Anyone who wears glasses or contact lenses must be re-tested when renewing their full licence usually about 10 years later.
Those who do not wear glasses will usually not have to be retested until age 70!
How often should your eyes be tested for driving?
Anyone who drives, particularly those who drive long distances for work should have eye tests every 2 years. Regular eye tests are vital not only to ascertain that your vision is up to standard but also to maintain your eyes’ health. Many eye diseases do not show any symptoms until they are quite advanced so by having regular check-ups, you ensure that any condition is treated immediately.
Not every driver has good vision!
Working as an optometrist (optician), I come across people every day who DO NOT reach the driving standard. It is frightening how many people are out there driving around with quite poor vision and seem to be totally oblivious to the fact. There is no legal requirement for regular eye tests but anyone who drives has a duty to make sure that their vision is good enough to drive not only for their own safety but also for the safety of other road users.
One thing to note is that the actual legal driving standard is surprisingly low and sometimes those who pass the test could still do with glasses for driving. Anyone who drives a lot or drives for work should get glasses to correct their distance even if it is just a small prescription, as it will help with driver fatigue and also improve reaction times. I would advise that you discuss with your optometrist at the time of testing whether a distance correction would be of benefit to you no matter how small the prescription is-getting them to show you the difference between wearing the glasses or not may help you with the decision.
Are you entitled to a free eye test?
Anyone who is employed for 5 years or more should have adequate PRSI cover for a free eye test every 2 years. To find out if you are covered, contact the opticians you wish to attend with your PPS number and they will check it out for you. Medical card holders are also entitled to a free eye test every 2 years. For those who do not have either type of cover, private eye test fees have dropped significantly in the past few years. Many opticians run promotions with eye tests for as little as €15-a small price to pay for safer roads!
Ailish O’ Hanlon FAOI is a Registered Optometrist at Eyedeal Opticians, located in Newpark Shopping Centre, Kilkenny. Ailish can be contacted for advice regarding eyesight tests, eye problems, frames, contact lenses etc at 056-7786754 and is more than happy to assist with your enquiries.