Members of the General Optical Council (GOC) discussed plans to produce supplementary guidance on driving and vision at the latest council meeting (15 November, London).
GOC policy manager, Angharad Jones, explained that fitness to drive had become a high-profile issue.
“There has been quite a lot of press coverage around vision and driving,” she highlighted.
Research commissioned by the GOC surveyed 3934 registrants to examine their views on the topic.
The study found 83% of survey respondents thought that the current fitness to drive system does not adequately protect the public.
Of this group, 40% thought that there should be compulsory vision tests for drivers at regular intervals.
The research also found that close to one in five registrants (18%) are unaware of the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) guidance for healthcare professionals outlining vision standards for driving.
The majority of registrants (73%) reported that they would not feel comfortable informing the DVLA if a patient did not meet the required visual standard, while 56% said it was difficult to balance patient confidentiality with their duty to protect the public from harm.
Ms Jones explained that the GOC planned on developing supplementary guidance on reporting concerns to the DVLA while also increasing awareness of the existing DVLA guidance on the topic.
Ms Jones emphasised that vision and driving is an area of “deep judgement” for registrants.
The GOC needed to support registrants as much as possible but it would not be possible to give detailed guidance on every situation that they would encounter in practice, she added.