Road Safety And The Importance Of Clear Vision
Clear vision means safer drivers and safer driving on our roads!
It is estimated that approximately 90% of our daily activities require the use of our vision. When it comes to driving, vision is clearly the most important of our senses.
When driving it is important to have clear comfortable vision. You need to be able to judge distances, read road signs and traffic lights and respond to changes in your environment quickly and efficiently. If you are not able to see well you will not be able to respond quickly when needed. This can be dangerous to both you and other road users.
There are a number of eye conditions that can cause vision problems among drivers; however the most common reason for drivers and learner drivers failing the vision screening test is due to uncorrected refractive errors.
What is a refractive error?
A refractive error is defined as an imperfection in the focusing power of the eye, in which light rays are not brought into sharp focus on the retina. This results in blurred vision that can usually be corrected easily with spectacles or contact lenses. A refractive error is not a disease, merely an error.
There four types of refractive errors namely
- myopia (short-sightedness),
- hyperopia (farsightedness),
Most people with myopia complain of having difficulty seeing objects at a distance. Symptoms that drivers report include having difficulty seeing sign boards at a distance or reading the number plate of the vehicle in front of them. Some people find that they have to “squint” their eyes to see better. It is estimated that at least 20% of drivers are myopic.
Myopia occurs when light rays come to a point of focus in front of the retina instead of precisely on it.
People with hyperopia tend to have more symptoms at near than at distance. They often complain of headaches, eyestrain, and tired eyes. They usually manage well enough during the day but find that they have difficulty seeing when driving at night. The vision problem occurs when the light rays come to a point of focus behind the retina instead of on it.
Astigmatism often accompanies either short-sightedness or farsightedness. It is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. The shape of an astigmatic cornea is often compared to that of a rugby ball, which has one shorter (steeper) curve and one longer curve. A normally spherical cornea is described as being shaped like a soccer ball. Due to the distorted surface there are two points of focus are formed instead of one, resulting in blurred vision.
Presbyopia is an age-related change that occurs in the eyes focussing ability at near only. It usually affects people over the age of 40 but does not affect your vision for driving.
If a vision problem is detected during the vision screening test it is important for you to have a comprehensive eye examination done. This is because some eye problems can result in permanent loss of if not detected and treated in time.
A Comprehensive eye examination should consist of the following tests:
Case History— You should be asked several questions relating to your general health, your family’s health and the problems that you are experiencing with your vision. It is important to report medical illness, surgery, injuries and any medication that you may be taking.
Visual acuity test—This test measures what you are able to focus at and see clearly at various distances, with each eye individually and with both eyes together. This is vitally important for quick identification of road signs and obstacles on the road eg animals.
Binocular vision (extra-ocular muscle alignment test)—These tests determine how your eyes work together. It is important in diagnosing squints, focusing problems etc.
Depth Perception – this tests your ability to judge space and relative distance between objects eg, between an object and a vehicle.
Visual field test —These tests check your “side vision” or peripheral vision. This is the ability to see and be aware of a wider field or area of vision around you while looking or focusing straight ahead. This is important in that it allows one to be aware of pedestrians, animals and cyclists on the sides of the road.
Subjective Refraction—This is the process of determining the power of the lenses required to improve your vision.
Slit-lamp exam—This instrument allows a magnified view of the eye.
Tonometry—This is the measurement of your eye pressure.
Ophthalmoscopy — This is an internal examination of the eye. It can be done through undilated pupils or more thoroughly, through dilated pupils
Take care to remember that a quick or even free eye exam may not include all of the above and may be at the expense of loosing your vision if vision threatening conditions are not diagnosed.
If you need any further information please contact our Customer Care Line number on 0860 66 20 20 or log onto our website address www.clearvision.co.za.
Written by Yurisa Naidoo