As lockdown restrictions ease in some Australian states, many people will be returning to drive, or to broadening their routine driving beyond their local area. With summer on the horizon, a road trip may be at the forefront of many people’s minds (even a long trip to the grocery store can sound like a luxury these days!).
However, it’s important to focus again on your level of comfort and fitness to drive as you increasingly get back on the road and begin travelling further. So, before you go reaching for the esky and the SPF, remember to check this off your list first:
Schedule an eye examination
Good eyesight and healthy eyes are vital to maintaining road safety as a driver. Even a small change in your vision can affect your ability to safely change lanes, merge into traffic, negotiate intersections or react to hazards in the road or surrounding environments.
To support you in remaining safe on the road, the Victorian licensing authority VicRoads has developed fact sheets that explain different eye conditions and how they can affect your driving safety and road awareness.
The fact sheets are available in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Turkish, Vietnamese, Italian and Greek, and can help to communicate the importance of undergoing regular eye examinations in order to keep track of your health and remain safe behind the wheel.
If you are having trouble seeing clearly at night, noticing a loss in your peripheral vision or experiencing reduced depth perception, it may be a sign that your vision is changing. Changes to your vision can happen gradually, so it’s important to seek help from an eye health professional to diagnose any visual impairments you may have that may affect your driving.
Recognise the signs of deteriorating vision
It is important to recognise the signs of visual impairment due to common eye diseases. VicRoads has recently released a series of videos which depict the potential visual impacts of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts and glaucoma on safe driving.
Good vision is critical for road safety in order to see and respond to your surrounding environment. If you notice any changes to your vision, it’s important to seek help for early diagnosis, treatment and advice.
Drivers have legal reporting obligations
All Australian drivers are required to notify their state or territory driver licensing authority if they have, or develop, a serious or chronic medical condition, disability, illness or injury that may affect their driving safety. This can include eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration or loss of vision in one eye.
You can declare your medical condition either online or in-person to your road agency. The simplest and most effective way for you to declare your eye condition or disease is to prompt your optometrist during your eye examination to fill out a fitness to drive eyesight report. In Victoria and New South Wales, your optometrist can also submit the form safely and securely online to your road agency on your behalf.
Your optometrist will also be able to explain to you whether your vision meets the Australian standards for driving and can advise you about the long-term impact of your eye condition and what you will need to do to keep driving for as long as possible.
If you have concerns about your vision, either on or off the road, contact your local optometrist to book an eye examination.