Almost 20 per cent of Australians between the ages of 35 and 54 find it difficult to read road signs, while 15 per cent of all Australians admit squinting to see while driving during the day, according to a new investigation into the state of the country's eye health.
What's more, 71 per cent of males and 63 per cent of females sought an eye examination after failing a driving test, with 59 per cent of all Australians revealing they're worried about the overall quality of their eyesight.
The findings came out of the 2020 Vision Index, a survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by Optometry Australia, which painted a concerning picture of drivers reporting vision issues while behind the wheel.
According to the survey, "middle-aged" drivers (35-54) were the group that struggled with road signs the most, with 19 per cent reporting trouble seeing them, compared with 14 per cent of younger Australians (18-34) and 10 per cent of older Australians (55+).
Squinting in order to improve vision was a common practice among Australians, with 15 per cent admitting to doing it while driving during the day, while 22 per cent reported they squinted to see better while driving at night.
According to Sophie Koh, an optometrist from Optometry Australia, as a general rule, drivers should be able to read a licence plate that is 20 metres away.
"Generally, you will need to be able to see a minimum of 100 metres ahead of you to have any chance of stopping for a hazard," Koh told CarAdvice.
"On a single lane road, where the vehicle that is coming towards you also needs to stop, you need to double this, so being able to see clearly at least 200m ahead would be ideal. On wet roads, this will be longer."
Koh advises "using common sense" and seeking a comprehensive eye exam from your optometrist if you're experiencing vision problems while driving.
"I think the public just needs to be more aware that good vision for life is not just about how far down you see on an eye chart today.
"You may see well today and may not need to wear glasses, but you may already have one of the common eye diseases such as cataract, glaucoma or macular degeneration that will affect your ability to drive confidently and safely into the future," Koh added.
Quality of vision remains a concern despite Australian drivers having to pass some level of eye testing in order to receive a driver's licence in some states (the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales, specifically).
In NSW, Victoria, SA and WA, eyesight issues must be listed as a condition on your licence. Drivers with this condition listed on their licence who are found to be driving without glasses or contact lenses could be fined or may accrue demerit points.
Vision impairment is an issue that's not going away anytime soon, with the Vision Index report indicating that by 2050, over 50 per cent of the global population will have myopia (otherwise known as short sightedness).
Australians certainly have plenty of room to improve when it comes to the maintenance of eye health - 26 per cent of survey respondents have never had an eye examination because they believed their vision was perfect, while 12 per cent admitted they'd never been to an optometrist at all.
Koh says those under 40 should have their eyes tested every two to three years, while those 40-65 should go every two years and those over 65 should receive testing annually.
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