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Optical Confed. Welcomes First Step for Drivers

Optical Confederation welcomes a first step on the road to better vision for all drivers

May 2012

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has updated the ‘Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive’.  The visual acuity standard for car and motorcycle drivers is now acuity of at least 6/12, as well as being able to read the number plate test from the prescribed distance.  For visual fields, the standard of 120 degrees horizontal remains, with an additional requirement to have at least 50 degrees on each side.

This change follows the DVLA’s Medical Advisory Panel’s meeting in June 2011 which recognised that the number plate test is not an accurate method of assessing visual acuity.  Although the DVLA initially proposed reducing the distance at which the number plate was read, no change has been made to the prescribed distance in the revised standards.

Mark Nevin on behalf of the OC said ‘We and partner health, transport and road safety stakeholders have campaigned hard over the past two years for better assessment of drivers’ vision. We stepped up our efforts following the advice from the DVLA’s Medical Advisory Panel last June.  Having a clearly defined visual acuity and visual field standard will assist healthcare practitioners when advising their patients on fitness to drive, which is a step in the right direction.  We would however like to see further progress to ensure that all drivers meet and continue to meet the visual standards, which research has indicated remains a problem.’

Jenny Gowen on behalf of the OC added, ‘A lot more could be done by the Government to raise awareness of the risks of driving with inadequate vision.  As a profession, we stand ready to work with all parties to deliver this.’

The OC awaits further clarification of the new standards which are understood to apply from 1st May.  Standards for Group 2 (lorry and bus) drivers have also been revised, including the requirement for visual acuity of at least 6/7.5 in the better eye.  The OC will produce guidance for its members to interpret the changes.

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