Millions turn a blind eye to dangerous driving

As many as 2.5 million adults in the UK are putting themselves and others at risk by deliberately ignoring the fact that they have bad eyesight. Most do so largely because of outdated information about contact lenses and preconceived ideas about glasses, a study by Dr June McNicholas, senior research psychologist at the University of Warwick, concluded today.

The findings came to light during a survey carried out in Glasgow, Manchester, Coventry and London, in which just under 1,000 adults who have not had eyesight correction were given a basic eye test and asked what they thought about contact lenses, glasses and laser eye surgery.

35% of the people who took part in the study failed a basic Snellen Chart test (the standard eyesight test used by opticians). Remarkably, 33% of the failures said they were "not surprised". That is, they had taken a conscious decision NOT to have their vision corrected. Amongst them were accountants, architects, nurses, dentists and, incredibly, a taxi driver. Indeed, 65% of those who failed also drive cars.

So why are this many people at best missing out on life's pleasures; at worst putting themselves and others in danger? Dr June McNicholas, from the University of Warwick, said: "We found that many people have a fear of contact lenses based on the idea that they haven't changed since the hard lenses of the sixties — lenses that had more in common with the original 'plate glass' designs first proposed by Leonardo da Vinci. And when it comes to glasses, many of us still labour with the idea of NHS spectacle designs of the same era."

"We know that half the UK population wear one form of vision correction or other," said Dr June McNicholas, "but if you thought the other half all have good eyesight, you'd be very wrong indeed."

The results showed that 78% of people cited discomfort as a reason why they would not have their eyesight corrected with contact lenses. 67% thought lenses would be a

Contact: Jenny Murray
University of Warwick

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