As the nation adjusts to putting the clocks back last weekend, drivers across the UK are being urged to safeguard against the darker nights by completing an eye test to assess their night vision.
According to a poll of 2,000 UK drivers, one in eight people say they struggle to see clearly behind the wheel at night. However, specialists are today warning that the number of people at risk will actually be far higher than this, claiming that the effects of the condition, Night Myopia, often go undetected.
Graham Cox, Professional Services Manager at Ultralase - the vision correction specialist behind the research, said:
"When we drive in dark conditions, our pupils dilate to let more light in. This increases the number, and effects, of your eyes' imperfections. As a result, you may experience effects such as glare, haloing, blurring and star bursts around light sources like oncoming headlights or street lamps.
"It’s also likely that your far-distance vision will also be affected, which will impact on your reaction speeds and ability to see clearly on the road.
"The difficulty is that drivers will have spent their whole lives seeing lights in this way, meaning they have no means to assess whether their vision is impaired unless it’s professionally tested.
"What’s more, those who have been tested and wear glasses or lenses may not be aware of how drastically their prescription can change at night, leaving them equally exposed.
"According to our research, we spend just under 13 hours behind the wheel of a car each week and, now that the clocks have gone back, the majority of this will be during darker hours.
"Driving a car is a great responsibility and one that becomes even more challenging during the winter months. We can only urge drivers to have their eyesight checked on a regular basis and opt for treatment that offers them the protection they deserve - no matter what the conditions may be."
Poor night vision is just one of many common problems reported in the survey, along with a lack of distance vision and issues with reading road signs.
One in five Brits also said that poor vision has led to at least one driving related incident for them, ranging from damaging their vehicle to a more serious road crash.
Despite these findings, over 20 per cent of Brits won’t have taken an eye test in the past two years, if at all, to determine whether their vision is good enough for driving.
What’s more, amongst those who need visual aids, one in three admit to taking at least two journeys each week without the glasses or lenses they have been prescribed to wear. This risk is taken despite 68 per cent of people being fully aware of the threat they’re posing to their passengers and fellow road users.
Martin Howard, spokesperson at Brake, says: "It’s shocking that so many drivers are risking lives by getting behind the wheel with poor vision.
"Making sure you can see properly is fundamental to safe and responsible driving, and we’re horrified that so many people are failing to take this seriously.
"We urge drivers to remember the appalling consequences that can result from poor eyesight at the wheel, to get their eyes tested at least every two years and to prepare for all the conditions they will face - especially during the darker and colder months."
Tagged in Driving