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Vision concerns? AOP encourages motorists to contact their optometrist before driving

Motorists urged to pick up the phone before getting behind the wheel after Dominic Cummings said he drove 30 miles to ‘test his eyesight’

wing mirror
The AOP has reminded motorists of the importance of contacting their optometrist before driving if they have concerns about their vision.

The statement was published after the prime minister’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings explained that he drove 30 miles with his wife and young child to ‘test his eyesight’ after travelling from London to Durham.

Mr Cummings revealed that he had concerns COVID-19 had affected his eyesight, so drove to the town of Barnard Castle as a test run ahead of his journey back to London.

The AOP has emphasised that those concerned about whether their vision is safe for driving should call their optometrist before making a car journey.

Dr Peter Hampson, clinical director for the AOP, said: “We are seeing a rise in the number of people who have a disregard for how important good vision is for driving ability, and it is impacting the safety of the individuals who use our roads.

“Sight loss can often be gradual, and can go unnoticed, so if you’re a driver and have concerns about your vision, while routine sight tests are currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, most practices are open for essential and urgent eye care and will be able to offer advice over the phone,” he said.

It is estimated that 2900 road casualties are caused each year as a result of poor vision.

The AOP runs an annual road safety campaign, Don’t Swerve a Sight Test, designed to encourage all drivers to think about their vision and driving.

You shall not pass: three reactions to Dominic Cummings’ driving claims

In the wake of the senior adviser’s explanation for getting behind the wheel during lockdown, people took to social media to share their views.

OT presents a snapshot of the conversation online.

Flawed logic

Optometrists, vision scientists and eye surgeons flocked to Twitter to point out that Mr Cummings would have been wiser to call an optometrist or attempt to read a clean number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

“If you suspect deterioration of sight, please don't drive to test how good it is,” a post from St Paul’s Eye Unit emphasised.

Barnard Castle as a Snellen chart

Fair play to whoever came up with this


So there's a new chart for testing eye sight for driving…. #cummingsPRESSconference

Majestic, steeped in history, a legacy of the past: castles have many attributes, but a classic test of visual acuity is not one of them.

This irony was highlighted on social media with a series of posts where the County Durham relic moonlighted as a vision test, while another portrayed the landmark as a ‘Site for sore eyes.’


The alternative

Rather than attempting to command more than a tonne of metal, a national newspaper suggested that those worried about their eyesight should embark on the more conservative testing ground of their puzzle pages.

The move was applauded as “lovely, subtle shade” by blogger Nathan Chard.

Image credit: Pixabay/MikesPhotos