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As news breaks of a 67-year old GP involved in a car accident in Essex due to his poor eyesight, it is worth taking the time to understand what vision is considered safe for driving and how driving can affect our eyesight.

Dr Aloke Basu suffered from cataracts in both eyes which severely impaired his vision, resulting in a fatal collision with a 74-year-old woman in Essex. As a result, Basu was jailed for two years for causing death by dangerous driving.

When applying for a driving license, it is essential that you inform the Driver and Vehicle License Agency (DVLA) if you have any visual impairment which may affect your ability to drive. This may include a condition which affects both eyes, such as cataracts, or one which affects your sight, such as a condition in one eye. If you have had vision correction surgery, this should also be declared prior to applying for a license. Similarly, those who suffer from defective colour vision should declare this because it may affect the driver’s ability to correctly interpret road signs and signals.

During the test, you will be asked to read a number plate to the driving examiner from a distance of 20 metres (for a new-style number plate) or 20.5 metres (for the old-style plate).

These simple vision tests are designed to determine whether you would be able to spot approaching hazards from a safe distance when driving and to ensure that you would be fully aware of your surroundings. If you cannot read the number plate after 3 tries, your license will be revoked and you will fail the test.

If you suffer from short or long-sightedness, ensure that you regularly consult your local optician for a full eye test. They will be able to calculate the correct prescription to improve your vision and offer a range of lens types to suit your needs. This may include single-vision lenses (for one vision use), bifocal (for people who require glasses for distance vision and near vision, combining the two in one convenient lens) or varifocal lenses (similar to bifocal but with no visible segment separating the two parts of the lens).

It may also be worth considering an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating to reduce reflections on your glasses lenses. For example, when driving at night, the bright lights of approaching cars may cause a distraction without an anti-reflective coating.

As we get older, our eye sight changes, so it is important to make regular visits to your optician to ensure your prescription is full up-to-date and appropriate for your needs.

Victoria is a writer of health and news articles for round glasses frames supplier, DirectSight.