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Can eye care practitioners help make traffic safer?

The question may seem a little bit far-fetched. What does automobile traffic have to do with your practice? Well, you have already guessed that the common element is eyesight. Too many people keep driving when they shouldn’t due to poor vision. Eye care practicioners can make a huge contribution to traffic safety.
Can eye care practitioners help make traffic safer?

Sweden has approximately 6.3 million people holding driving licenses. According to a recent survey made in October 2016 (Synbesiktningen), around 1.3 million of these have eyesight that is hazardous when driving. And, 750,000 would not pass the test required for getting a driving license in the first place. Note that Sweden and a few other countries do not require eyesight tests for keeping a driving license when one gets older. Thus, we can infer that some drivers should not be driving on roads at all.

There are many reasons to this situation. Obviously, lack of eye tests and consequent action is primary, but why don’t drivers make sure their vision is adequate? Why do some people avoid taking a simple eye exam? A few possible reasons could be:

  • They don’t realize that their eyesight has deteriorated with age.
    If they need reading glasses, they should get their vision checked.
  • They realize it but don’t want to risk losing their driver's license.
    Mandatory tests and education might help here.
  • Their way of life includes having access to a vehicle so they don’t question it. Again, mandatory tests and education about solutions might help.
  • They have a short-term impairment due to surgery or sickness.
    This can happen at any age. Information, education, and “doctors’ orders” could be helpful.

Drivers should be reminded to get a proper eye exam if their vision is blurred from 2 meters and onward. This is an indication of when eyesight is not suitable enough for driving. The average age of drivers is increasing – especially in the western world. Drivers are getting older and most likely this is potentially correlated to the increasing number of drivers with dangerously limited vision for driving.

So, what can you do about it? Well, you and your practice are perfectly positioned to act on this. Here are a few tips:

  • Educate your customers.
    Take every opportunity you can to talk about eyesight and traffic – tell them about lenses specifically made for driving.
  • Simplified eye tests.

    Create a simple visual acuity chart for your customers to test their vision at home. Those who's vision seems to deteriorate should come back to your practice for a proper eye exam.

  • Collaborations
    Why not cooperate with auto dealers? Provide them with information material to be given to their customers. Perhaps conduct a seminar at the dealers or even offer simple eye tests?
  • Customer retention program.

    Send an annual reminder to your customers to have an eye exam and educate them that they will be safer drivers when they have correct vision in all types of light conditions.

Regardless of where in world one is, the problem remains the same. Sometimes our vision is not correct enough for our activities. But, you can help. And, that can help will improve traffic safety and potentially save lives.

Isn’t that a nice thought?

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