The IGA 'Eyeway code': to keep Your Eyes and Life on the Road after 40 years old
As part of our 2011 'CAN U C 2 Drive' glaucoma awareness campaign, the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) presents the 'EyeWay Code' which addresses the risks of glaucoma – one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the UK– which primarily, but not solely, affects people aged 40 and over.
Glaucoma affects more than 600,000 people in the UK, yet it is estimated that over half the people concerned are undiagnosed and untreated. The condition affects peripheral vision and without regular testing, people will miss the early onset of the disease, as there is no automatic 'warning light' for glaucoma. Early diagnosis and compliance are key so that drivers with glaucoma can continue to drive safely and with confidence.
The prevalence of glaucoma – which is increasing in line with the ageing population – and in particular its current level of under diagnosis and treatment, creates a glaring risk on our roads. For the safety of drivers, passengers, other road users and pedestrians, it is time to 'get into gear' with glaucoma.
The EyeWay Code includes four parts:
1. Glaucoma – the disease and driving
2. 'Road test your eyes'
3. 'Road map to treatment'
4. Call to action: 'Get into gear with glaucoma'
We share the results of research carried out this summer, which show that despite most adult drivers fearing the life changing consequences of losing the ability to drive, many are blind to the risk of developing glaucoma. We also include the stories of two patients and expert comments on the disease and Code.
Russell Young, Chief Executive of the IGA said: "When people turn 40, and to be sure even younger, it's time to 'get into gear' with glaucoma, starting with regular pit stops at a local optician to see the optometrist. Nobody wants to lose their eyesight unnecessarily or prematurely, especially when treatment has proven to be so effective. This disease can impact on anyone, so don't be blind to the risk."
Professor David Crabb, Department of Optometry and Visual Science, City University, London, said "Glaucoma affects the off-centre parts of the field of vision first and does not affect the central detailed vision until the late stages of the condition. Regular professional testing by an optometrist at the opticians is essential to pick up the disease early on. This greatly increases the probability of successful disease management and a continued ability to drive safely and with confidence."
Andrew Howard, AA Head of Road Safety, said: "As we get older having our eyes tested regularly becomes more and more important. From a driving angle we need to make sure that we can meet the basic eyesight test, but we also have to ensure we don't have the conditions, like glaucoma, that can eventually preclude driving if untreated. And a check isn't everything, drivers need to discuss driving with their opticians, so that anything that will affect them in the future can be identified and acted on before they start to affect ability to drive".
Mark Nevin on behalf of the Optical Confederation said: "We have also been campaigning about the importance of testing drivers' vision. The number plate test, for example, simply does not pick up conditions, such as glaucoma, which cause visual field loss. We have been pressing the Government to introduce vision screening as part of licence renewal to ensure eye conditions are picked up early and that people can continue to drive safely. 'The Eyeway Code' from the IGA is a very welcome initiative to raise awareness about driving with good vision."