Company drivers may be putting themselves, the public, and the business at risk from poor eyesight, without even being aware of an issue, according to Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.
Specsavers has been using a virtual reality (VR) tool to replicate the vision of someone driving with undetected glaucoma. Results from the driving simulation showed that driving with glaucoma increases the risk of accidents by 11%. Furthermore, on average, people’s reactions to hazards were 0.3 seconds slower when driving with a slight visual impairment, compared to clear vision.
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘Employers have a health and safety responsibility to limit the risks for anyone carrying out work-related activity. This includes driving.’
Hosted in partnership with the International Glaucoma Association (IGA), more than 150 people took part in the VR experience in four locations across the UK. People were asked to use the VR sight simulator to navigate as if driving along a road while avoiding potential hazards. Of those who took part in the VR experience, 23% had not had a sight test in the past two years.
Specsavers Corporate Eyecare believes the driving simulation study shows that more needs to be done to educate people on how a change in vision can impact road safety. The workplace is the perfect place for this to happen and the company will benefit as well as the individual.
Jim Lythgow continued: ‘It is important for employers to feel confident that each of their employees is as safe as possible behind the wheel, and a large part of this is knowing that their vision is adequate.
‘Sight can deteriorate gradually, without the individual being aware of any change. This is why eye tests for employees who drive are so important. Implementing driver eye care is a key step in employers meeting their health and safety obligations. Eye care can be easy and inexpensive to put in place and the benefits for both the employee and employer could be huge.’
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. It often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees. As most cases will not have any symptoms, one of the best ways to detect glaucoma is during a routine eye test, which is why it is so important to have one regularly.
Glaucoma can be treated but early detection is important. It left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment and damage that cannot be reversed. But, if it is detected and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be minimised or prevented.