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Are your employees at risk?

10 March 2020

WORLD GLAUCOMA Week takes place from 8 to 14 March this year and its goal is to encourage everyone to have regular eye tests so glaucoma can be detected as early as possible. It is a joint global initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Committee.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. It often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees. As most cases will not have any symptoms, one of the best ways to detect glaucoma is during a routine eye test, which is why it is so important to have one regularly. 

Glaucoma can be treated but early detection is important. It left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment and damage that cannot be reversed. But, if it is detected and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be minimised or prevented. 

A timely reminder

This week is a good opportunity for safety professionals to think about their eye care policy and to consider whether it meets the requirements for regular eye checks for all employees. In general, optometrists recommend having a routine eye test every two years, although the specific frequency required will depend upon each individual and is best advised by the optometrist. 

Infrequent checks

Specsavers recently held an event in partnership with the International Glaucoma Association in which a virtual reality (VR) tool was used to replicate the vision of someone driving with undetected glaucoma. Of the 150 people who took part, in four locations across the UK, nearly a quarter, 23%, had not had an eye test in the last two years.

Driver caution 

While we are all at risk of glaucoma and its effects, there are potentially serious consequences for those who drive with affected eyesight. 

The VR simulation was used by Specsavers to replicate the vision of someone driving with undetected glaucoma. People were asked to use the VR sight simulator to navigate as if driving along a road while avoiding potential hazards. The results showed that driving with glaucoma increases the risk of accidents by 11%. Furthermore, on average, people’s reactions to hazards were 0.3 seconds slower when driving with a slight visual impairment, compared to clear vision. 

Workplace impact

The study shows that more needs to be done to educate people on how a change in vision can impact road safety. The workplace is the perfect place for this to happen. 

It is important for safety professionals to feel confident that each of their company’s employees is as safe as possible behind the wheel, and a large part of this is knowing that their vision is adequate.

Sight can deteriorate gradually, without the individual being aware of any change. This is why eye tests for employees who drive are so important. Implementing driver eye care is a key step in meeting health and safety obligations under the health and safety regulations. Eye care can be easy and inexpensive to put in place and the benefits for both the employee and employer could be huge.

Without proper eye care, company drivers may be putting themselves, the public, and the business at risk from poor eyesight, without even being aware of the issue. Why not use this World Glaucoma Week as an opportunity to review eye care policies and to educate the workforce?

More details can be found at www.specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/glaucoma