Drivers urged to have eye tests

DRIVERS over 40 are being urged to have regular eye examinations because of their increased risk of developing the eye disease glaucoma.

Specsavers in Arbroath’s Abbeygate Centre is backing this year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week (June 11 to 17) to call for the estimated 600,000 people currently driving and at risk of having glaucoma, to have a regular eye examination at least once every two years.

Glaucoma is one of the leading cause of preventable blindness in the UK and can reduce a person’s eyesight by up to 40 percent before the sufferer even realises there is a problem.

Specsavers Arbroath director Kenny Johnston said: “It is very common to assume that there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight and how many people have got in the car without wearing their specs? One of the first signs of glaucoma is loss of your peripheral vision which could prove lethal when you’re driving.

“Glaucoma may sound frightening but it is treatable and can be prevented with regular eye examinations. We’d also like to remind everyone that in Scotland eye examinations are free, so if you are over 40 and have a history of glaucoma in your family it’s important you book in for a vision check with your local optician.”

As part of its CAN U C 2 DRIVE glaucoma awareness campaign, a survey released by the International Glaucoma Association revealed that 83 percent of drivers aged 40 to 54 felt their lives would change dramatically if they could no longer drive. However, nearly one in three had failed to have an eye test during the recommended two year period.

Glaucoma is the general term used to describe damage to the optic nerve, most commonly caused by increased pressure in the eye when the fluid within the eye, called aqueous humour, is unable to drain away properly.

Other risk factors for glaucoma cases include short-sightedness, if people are of Afro-Caribbean descent, or have other medical conditions such as diabetes, poor circulation, migraine headaches or past eye injuries.

Specsavers has campaigned throughout the past decade for legislation to be introduced to make eye examinations compulsory as part of the driving test.