Eye checks ‘vital

for safe driving'

Eye test
Dr Gareth Rees, DVLA Vision Panel Secretary

THE man responsible for ensuring the nation's drivers have good eyesight has told of the need for regular eye tests.

Dr Gareth Rees, secretary of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency's vision panel, says that all motorists should get their eyes tested at least once every two years.

He points out that the DVLA has minimum eyesight standards that all drivers need to demonstrate to prove they are safe behind the wheel.

And he warns that if you suspect your vision is getting worse you should act immediately.

Dr Rees has explained how the DVLA goes about deciding on vision standards for driving and told more about his role.

"I've been a doctor for 41 years and have been DVLA's Vision Panel Secretary for 10 years. My main role is to liaise between DVLA and the Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Visual Disorders," said Dr Rees.

"The panel meets every six months and is made up of eyesight specialists, who provide DVLA with expert advice on how to apply and interpret the law when assessing fitness to drive.

"We all have busy lives, and sometimes we might overlook the signs that our eyes are not as good as they were.

"You might be finding it harder to judge distances, you might be struggling to read the newspapers, or it's getting more difficult for you to drive at night. These are just a few signs that your eyesight may be deteriorating.

"In line with advice from optometrists, our advice is that you should get your eyes tested at least every two years. But if you recognise any of the signs above, don't wait - go and get checked out straight away with your optician or doctor. If they advise you to tell DVLA about your eyesight, you can do this online or by writing to us."

And he stresses that anyone not meeting the eyesight standards should stop driving immediately and inform the DVLA.

"Don't worry - usually, most people who tell us they've got a medical condition are still allowed to drive," added Dr Rees.

"If you have a ‘progressive' (worsening) condition but can still meet the eyesight standards for driving, you may get a short-term licence rather than a full-term one. This type of licence lasts for one, two, three or five years and when it's due for renewal, we let you know.

"It's better to be safe than sorry. So if you're in doubt, get it checked out."

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