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What is myopia?

Myopia is commonly known as being short-sighted. It means you can see things closer to you, but not further away. This is due to the length of the eyeball being too long. This causes images to focus in front of the retina, and therefore appear blurry.


Source: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/nearsightedness-myopia#1

Who is affected?

In 2010 it was estimated that there were 2billion people with myopia. This is set to increase to a staggering 5billion in 20501.

Due to their continued growth, children and teenagers usually face a progression of myopia. Often this can mean their vision and therefore spectacle prescription can change every time they come for an eye exam – even when under 6 monthly review2 (see example below).


Source: https://coopervision.co.uk/contact-lenses/misight-1-day

Genetics increases the risk of a child being myopic. A child without a myopic parent has a 25% chance of being myopic. If one parent is myopic, then the risk of a child having myopia increases by 3x, and if both parents are myopic, this rises to 6x3.

Why is the prevalence of myopia increasing?

Recent studies have shown that new patterns of lifestyle are contribution to the increase in myopia worldwide. An increase in close work, especially electronic devices such as tablets and phones, poor lighting and the reduced amount of time that children spend outside have all been found to contribute to an increased risk for the development and progression of myopia3.

Why is it a problem?

Not only does myopia mean dependence on vision correction, but as myopia progresses, the risk of related ocular health issues also increases. This includes retinal detachment, glaucoma and myopic maculopathy. Each of these can cause irreversible vision loss.

So, what can we do about it?

  1. Changes in lifestyle – try to reduce the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices and increase their time outdoors. Studies have shown that spending more time outdoors may decrease the risk of myopia or myopia progression4.
  2. Ensure regular eye check-upschildren do not always appreciate there is something wrong with their eyes. All children under 16 in the UK are entitled to a yearly NHS eye exam. Here at VisionCare Optometry we are happy to see children regularly from the age of 3, and sooner if you have concerns (especially if there is a family history of eye related problems such as squint and/or lazy eye). You don’t have to wait for your child to be able to read letters, or even speak!
  3. Myopia Control contact lenses we now fit Coopervision MiSight® 1 day lenses. Unlike standard contact lenses and spectacles, these lenses don’t just correct myopia, they may help to slow its progression too5. Where appropriate, we can fit children as young as 8 with these lenses.
  4. Myopia control spectacles for those not suitable for contact lenses, we can now supply myopia control spectacles* which may also help to slow down the rate of myopia progression.

Please come in and speak to us about any concerns you may have about your child’s vision, and to discuss contact lens or spectacle solutions that may help.

More information can also be found on our Myopia Control page.

  1. Holden et al, Ophthalmology 2016
  2. Flitcroft DI. The complex interactions of retinal, optical and environmental factors in myopia aetiology. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2012;31(6):622-660
  3. https://coopervision.co.uk/eye-health-and-vision/childhood-short-sightedness/could-your-child-be-short-sighted
  4. Wolffsohn JS, Calossi A, Cho P, et al GlobalTrends in Myopia Management Attitudes and Strategies in Clinical Practice. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2016;39’106-16.
  5. Chamberlain P, et al. Clinical evaluation of a dual-focus myopia control 1 day soft contact lens – 3-year results BCLA 2017

*Not fully covered by NHS GOS3 voucher

Quite the headline I am sure you will agree, and yet each week many drivers make the decision to get behind the wheel, even though they know their vision has deteriorated. Some even make this decision after they have been advised by their Optician that they no longer reach the driving standards.

Key facts

  • In 2011, 5,285 drivers and motorcyclists had their licences revoked because they could not pass a standard eye test, an increase of 8% since 2010. (Road safety observatory, eyesight and driving, 2013).
  • A 2013 study by the College of Optometrists suggested that 2-3% of drivers have vision below the minimum standard.
  • A look at “Britain’s eye health in focus” by the College of Optometrists in 2013 also estimated that around three quarters of adults use corrective eyewear or contact lenses.
  • This same study found that 1 in 20 drivers could had not had an eye test in the past 10 years or couldn’t recall when they had last had one.
  • A 2014 study by Brake, the road safety charity, et el, found that 1 in 4 UK drivers hadn’t had a sight test in the last 2 years and that 4% (the equivalent of 1.5 million licence holders) have never had an eye examination.
  • DVLA statistics revealed in August 2019 that there are now twice as many drivers in their 80’s than teenagers on UK roads.

In this article we will look at what the legal requirements are, what will happen if you continue to drive despite substandard vision and when you should and how you can inform the DVLA.

The legal bit

Being able to legally meet the requirements to drive on UK roads is based on two points;

  • How well you can see; and
  • How much you can see around you.

The first is measured in two ways and although one is a self-assessment the other can only be achieved by a visit to your Optician.

Test one is whether you can read a number plate (in the design of plate made after September 2001) from a distance of 20 metres away.

The second test is to be able to read the 6/12 line on the letter chart at your Opticians. This can be with spectacle or contact lenses, although if you need either to reach this standard you must therefore where them to drive. Our Optometrist will inform you if you do/don’t achieve this standard.

The next requirement is looking at your visual field. To check how well you can see around you when you are looking straight ahead, we will place you on a machine and ask you to follow a red dot whilst counting how many green dots appear around it.

Please note that for driving we are looking at what vision you have with both eyes together and not that both of your eyes meet each standard noted above. This means that should you have an eye disease such as age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma in one eye you may still be ok to drive.

For further reading and to see the most up to date driving legal requirements please visit Gov.uk. Please keep checking back from time to time as requirements can change (even the number plate at the header of this piece will change post 31st January 2020).

After your sight test

At the end of your sight test, our Optometrist will inform you if there are any concerns with you meeting the legal requirements to drive.

It may be that you meet the standards but only if you wear your current spectacles or contact lenses. This is fantastic news as you can drive yourself home and continue about your routine.

If, however, you do not meet the driving standards with your current prescription and are told a new prescription will allow you to continue driving, you MUST not drive until you are in possession of your new spectacles/contact lenses. This includes NOT driving home from your appointment.

There may even be an occasion where we can improve your vision from where it currently is, but not enough to be able to meet the legal driving requirements. This would mean you immediately need to stop driving.

We have leaflets in Practice produced by the College of Optometrists, (“Driving and Vision”) which we will issue to you to take away and read more about the discussions we have had with you. This will also provide more information on when to advice the DVLA and how to.

What happens if you continue to drive when told you should not do so?

Apart from the obvious of putting yourself and others at risk, it is a criminal offence to continue to drive if you have been told you are medically unfit to do so, and carries a fine of up to £1,000.

This could lead to prosecution should you be involved in an accident and you may also find that your car insurance to be invalidated.

How to inform the DVLA

YOU must inform the DVLA if you can no longer meet the vision requirements for driving. You can do this by completing a V1 form and submitting it back to the DVLA (to the address on the form).

Section 4 of this form is where you declare that you can/can’t meet the legal standards for driving.

(V! – Online vision medical questionnaire)

This form can be downloaded from the following page V1

There are other stipulations such as if you have a disability which has got worse since you got your licence or if you have certain medical conditions, even if you can still meet the vision requirements. We have not touched on those in this article, however more information can be found at www.gov.uk/driving-medical-conditions and www.gov.uk/health-conditons-and-driving.

Summary

We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to have regular eye examinations to ensure you meet the legal requirements to drive.

As noted in the key facts at the start of this article, there are now twice as many drivers in their 80’s than teenagers on UK roads. A change in vision does not have to mean you lose your ability to drive; we could actually make it easier for you. Not to mention safer for you and those around you.

This is also just as important for teenagers, especially if you have not had a sight test as a child. Your vision is normal to you and you may not even realise that you aren’t seeing as clear as possible as you have no other reference. If you are under 19 years old and still in full time education your sight test is free, so get booked in before you take your practical driving test to ensure you can meet the required standards.

ACUVUE® OASYS with TransitionsTM Light Intelligent TechnologyTM

What are they?

ACUVUE® OASYS with TransitionsTM Light Intelligent TechnologyTM are the latest contact lens offering from Johnson and Johnson. They are similar to TransitionsTM spectacle lenses that change from clear to dark on exposure to UV and are the first contact lens of their kind on the market.

They begin to change immediately when exposed to sunlight, and then return to clear within 90 seconds of being indoors. Automatically balancing the amount of indoor and outdoor light entering the eye, they allow the eyes to adapt to changes in lighting more easily, which makes almost all lighting environments more comfortable. They also help to reduce glare from blue light sources such as computer and device screens.

They are not a substitute for sunglasses, as sunglasses also protect the skin around the eyes from UV damage, and the contact lenses do not tend to go as dark as a sunglass tint. They will also not work behind a windscreen.

Personal experience

Our Castleford Optometrist Lizzy, has been using these contact lenses for the past couple of months:

“I first wore the lenses during a very sunny week in New York. I kept forgetting that I was wearing them, as they don’t alter the way in which you see. It was nice to have photographs where I wasn’t squinting because of the sun. However it wasn’t until I got home and swapped back to my usual, clear, contact lenses that I realised how much of a benefit the transitions actually were! I’m quite sensitive to sunlight and will often have to wear sunglasses, even on an overcast day, but realised I had only had to wear my sunglasses on sunny days.

Although they don’t adapt fully behind a car windscreen or indoors, they do help to filter some of the effects of blue light from computer and device screens as well as helping to reduce the general glare from overhead lights, and headlights when driving at night. In general I find they make my vision more comfortable all day. As a result I’ve now decided to make the switch from my previous lenses!”

How can I find out more?

You can contact us, by phone or email, to find out if Oasys TransitionsTM contact lenses would be suitable for you, and to arrange a trial or fitting appointment. 

Introducing ACUVUE® OASYS with TransitionsTM