UK's Association of Optometrists (AOP) suggests that all motorists be forced to take an eye test at least every ten years. The association believes the UK's current laws aren't adequate for protecting the general public.
As of today, the UK's Department of Transport (DfT) requires that new motorists see a car plate at least 65 feet in front of them. After this initial test, there are no later mandatory vision examinations.
Spokespeople from the DfT said that under British law motorists are responsible for reporting any changes in vision to the government. All UK residents should send in their latest vision results to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
According to a recent report put together by the AOP, however, most British optometrists believe the country needs stricter laws. Nine in ten optometrists surveyed say the current laws are "outdated" and that having a mandatory eye exam is a good idea.
Optometrists also don't like that there are no requirement for motorists over the age of 70 to get a visual checkup. In just the past month, the majority of optometrists admitted to screening at least one patient with both a driver's license and below-average eyesight.
In 2016, there were six fatal car crashes directly related to poor eyesight. Another 63 people were injured in an accident where at least one of the motorists had impaired vision.
Dr. Julie Anne-Little, a professor of optometry at Ulster University, told reporters that that UK is falling "behind many other countries" when it comes to vision standards for drivers. She went on to say that most serious eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) don't present visual symptoms until they are fully developed.
Optometrists recommend getting an eye exam at least once every two years to keep on top of potentially blinding eye diseases. Anyone over the age of 45 should seriously consider getting a visual exam at least once a year.
With an increasingly aging population, vision problems are only expected to increase across the UK. There are now over one million people between the ages of 80 and 89 driving in the UK. An astonishing 108,000 UK residents over the age of 90 are now legally driving around. Areas with the greatest numbers of elderly drivers include London, Hampshire, and the West Midlands.