AOP urges motorists to take regular sight tests

Research demonstrates the importance of good vision for driving ability and safety

We’ve been working with insurance provider Direct Line to demonstrate how visual impairment can affect the ability to drive safely.


Henry Leonard, Clinical and Regulatory Officer at the AOP, fits journalist David Williams with lenses before his test drive. Credit: John Lawrence for The Telegraph

For the project, optometrist Henry Leonard, Clinical and Regulatory Officer at the AOP impaired the vision of a journalist to varying degrees. Starting at the legal minimum standard he worked back to simulate what it is like to drive just below this and then with glaucoma and cataracts.     

Using a driving simulator at the TRL transport research centre, we were able to test the affects visual impairment can have on speed and reaction times.

The research was published in an article that promoted the need for regular sight tests in the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Leonard said: “In the UK there is currently no requirement for drivers to have regular sight tests. This means that a 17-year-old who can read a number plate when they take their driving test, may continue driving for the rest of their life with no further vision checks. Roadside tests have shown that many drivers subsequently fall below the required standard as their eyesight changes over time, often without realising.

“In much the same way that cars are required to have an MOT to ensure they are roadworthy, we believe that regular sight testing should be compulsory for all motorists, to ensure that their vision meets the required standards. A sight test also includes an eye health check, and might even detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”