It goes without saying that your eyesight is important when it comes to driving. After all, our eyes are responsible for 90% of the information we receive. They're needed to make safe, appropriate decisions, as well as to help us pick out things like road signs, other vehicles, cyclists, traffic signals, pedestrians and motorcycles, so we can be as safe as possible on the road.
So, it's a bit of an eye-opener to learn that research by National Eye Health Week estimates that there are nine million drivers on Britain’s roads with vision that falls below the legal standards for driving. Unfortunately, such a statistic means that accidents involving drivers with poor eyesight have been estimated to cause 3,000 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year.
It's clear to see that eyesight is an issue for a huge number of drivers, but how about your own vision? To help test your optics on the road, we've put together this tricky quiz, so we can sort the 20/20 contingent from those with subpar sight. If you're straining to complete it, then there's a chance you may need to take better care of your vision.
As well as our quiz, you'll find some information on the importance of checking your eyesight regularly, as well as some handy practical tips you can do to keep them healthy for when you get behind the wheel, in the guide below.
Why is good eyesight important for driving?
here are all sorts of reasons why it's important to take care of our own eyesight when it comes to driving – both for your own safety and the safety of others on the road. Because of the number of incidents and injuries caused by poor eyesight, it's essential your vision is good enough or at least corrected by glasses or contact lenses as necessary.
It's worth keeping in mind, too, that it's not just being short sighted that's an issue. Poor eyesight affects your field of vision, night vision, contrast sensitivity, and other visual functions that can all put your driving in jeopardy if unchecked.
Think back to your driving test; you wouldn't have been able to pass the test in the first place without being able to read the number plate of the car 20 metres in front. When you do pass your test and have your licence, it's your responsibility to make sure your vision is still as good as it was on your test day. If you can't pass this self-conducted test and you're pulled over by police who deem your driving unsafe, you could receive a ban.
Regularly checking your eyesight
Even if you don't have any concerns about your sight, having regular checks is still important, as your optician can spot many general health problems as well as early signs of eye conditions, before you're aware of them. Found early enough, these can easily be treated.
Having regular sight tests – usually once every two years unless advised otherwise – is essential in keeping you safe and helping you reduce the risk of accident, injury or damage to fellow drivers.
Booking an eye test your local optician is easy. Plus, they're usually cheap and you might even qualify for a free test; take a look at some free offers on the internet and see which are local to you. For drivers in Scotland, eyesight tests are free for everyone.
Practical tips for keeping your eyesight healthy
As well as regular eye exams, here are a few steps you can take to maintain healthy eyes.
Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zinc and vitamins C and E help fight age-related vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Try adding some of the following to your diet:
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards
Salmon, tuna, and other oily fish
Eggs, nuts, beans, and other nonmeat protein sources
Oranges and other citrus fruits or juices
Oysters and pork
Quitting smoking is good for the eyes. Smoking increases your risk of diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts — and it can harm the optic nerve too.
Being physically active not only helps you stay healthy, it can also lower your risk of health conditions that can cause eye health or vision problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
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