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A new research survey, commissioned by The College of Optometrists, has revealed the concerning number of drivers who require glasses to drive on the roads, but drive without them.

Driving without glasses

60% of UK drivers have been advised to wear glasses while driving, but nearly a quarter of these (24%) admitted that they do not always wear them when behind the wheel.

Driving at night is much more dangerous than in full daylight. Depth perception, colour recognition and peripheral vision can all be compromised in the dark and as we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night.

It is so important therefore for all drivers, and especially older drivers, to ask themselves the question, ‘Can I see to drive?’ at this time of year, and to regularly check the number plate test to ensure they meet the vision standards for driving. If the answer is not a definite ‘Yes’, a visit to the optometrist is essential.

Headlight glare

An additional, modern-day hazard of night driving is being dazzled by oncoming headlights. 76% of those surveyed said they had found this to be a problem.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MBE FCOptom, Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists and a practicing optometrist explains how to protect yourself from this type of glare:

“While wearing the latest prescription will provide the best vision, one solution for people who wear glasses to drive is to wear a pair with an anti-reflection coating. These may reduce distracting internal reflections from headlights without causing the driver’s view of the road to become noticeably darker. Avoid lenses with yellow-coloured filters, as these are not proven to help and may even be dangerous, as the tint makes dark parts of the road appear even darker.”

Some of the other biggest night driving challenges cited were:

  • driving in rain, fog or snow (42%) 
  • not being able to see potholes in the road (29%)
  • worries about not being able to see a cyclist (18%)
  • concerns they would miss seeing a pedestrian (17%).

The College of Optometrists urges all drivers to attend for regular sight tests, as recommended by their optometrist. If you develop eye symptoms, or feel there is a change in your vision, you should contact your optometrist in the first instance. Finally, you should wear your glasses for driving if you have been advised to.

Visit our driving and vision page for more information.

October 18, 2023