Road risk as clocks change

As the clocks go back this Sunday, leading eye surgeons warn of the latest danger on Britain’s roads – drivers with undiagnosed or untreated cataracts.
 
New research[i] from Optegra Eye Health Care shows that more than one in ten (11 per cent) British adults struggle to see road signs when driving.
 
One in 20 British adults (five per cent) say they cannot even see the car in front of them when driving.
 
As a result, these worrying figures herald ‘the advent of the cataract season’, as British Summer Time ends and extended night-time driving hours exacerbates this major motoring safety issue.
 
Cloudy vision and a distracting glare from lights at night are two of the main side effects of cataracts. Yet, shockingly, almost two thirds (58 per cent) of drivers admit to experiencing distracting glare and do not feel safe driving at night, but continue to do so.

Optegra calls on British drivers not to ignore these signs that they may not be safe behind the wheel.
 
Current awareness of symptoms is low[ii] - only 17 per cent of Brits over 65 recognise the main side effects of a cataract. As a result impaired vision, and the subsequent danger on the road, is being left untreated and an overwhelming 70 per cent have put up with cloudy vision for more than a year!
 
Furthermore, cataracts are also no longer just affecting those over 65. Medical data shows that people are now being diagnosed with cataracts at a younger age than ever before, so if you are in your 40s/50s you should not ignore these symptoms.
 
Mr James Ball, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Optegra, says: “Many people are just coping with, and in some cases ignoring, these terrible vision problems.  To drive in a haze of cloudiness is just not safe. Add to that the disabling glare from lights as the nights draw in and drivers really are putting themselves, and others, at risk. 
 
“At this time of year we really call on anyone who thinks driving is more challenging due to cloudiness or bright lights to please go to their local optician and have an eye check.”
 
The Optegra research also shows that 10 per cent of British adults are prevented from living a full and active life by cataracts, short sight (58 per cent) and long sight (25 per cent). And yet cataract surgery is a simple procedure and one of the most commonly performed elective operations in the world.
 
Mr Ball concludes: “It is vital that people know the first symptoms of cataract so they can look into diagnosis and treatment as early as possible, as this will dramatically improve their quality of life.  We have so many patients who say they feel like a net curtain has been lifted once they have had the simple procedure, and are given a new lease of life.”
 
With one in three over 65s expected to suffer vision impairing cataract at some point, it is vital that everyone has regular eye tests to detect the early signs of cataract. 

 
[i] Optegra commissioned research with Censuswide in July 2015; online research with 2,016 adults aged 16 or over throughout the UK, 50 GPs and more than 50 optometrists.
 
[ii] Research commissioned by Optegra, was carried out by TNS Global from 4 to 8 October 2013, and interviewed 525 British adults aged over 65 years

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