Travelling long distances on South African roads during the festive season can be intimidating. Whether you are visiting, holidaying, or just exploring, being aware of the strain your eyes take while driving – and ensuring you put protective measures in place – can help make yours a safe and happy one.
“While you’re on the road, your eyes are constantly working moving, adjusting and refocussing, depending on the scene in front of you,” says Tania Noach, Optometrist at Vision Works. “They additionally have to contend with distractions such as on-coming traffic, checking the route on GPS, pedestrians, wildlife, the scenery, as well as our bright sunlight.”
All these activities make your eyes work harder than they should, which is why it is important to provide them with the support and care that they need. “Just as you would make sure your vehicle is road-worthy before a long trip, testing your eyes regularly for their road-worthiness, is essential,” Tania continues, adding, “You should get your eyes tested at least once every two years, depending on the severity of your visual impairment, and if you wear contact lenses, you must be tested once every year.”
Noach advises that there are things we all can do – whether we are spectacle or contact lens wearers, or not – to limit the amount of strain put on your eyesight. “This will make making driving this festive season not only safer, but more enjoyable,” she says. Noach offers drivers a few handy tips before hitting the roads this summer:
Regular breaks are important. The simple act of stopping for 5 minutes every hour and closing your eyes for a while makes a significant impact on your vision, as it assists in resetting your eyes’ functionality, helping to ensure that you carry on with your journey safely.
Wear good sunglasses, an underrated but crucial accessory when driving. Your eyes are just like your skin, they need protection from the sun. Make sure that they get sunglasses which offer them 100% ultraviolet (UV) protection. For that, it is recommended to make use of prescription sunglasses if you wear glasses, or if you are lucky to have perfect sight, good quality sunglasses when driving during the day. Contact lens wearers should pair their contacts with good quality sunnies. Not only will you make sure you are travelling safely, if you select a great frame, you will look good doing it too
The best form of glare protection from the sun is offered by polaroid lenses, because these eliminate most of the glare and bright reflections from the windshield and other cars. Passengers in the car are also exposed to the these and should also take precaution.
Don’t forget about proper eye-care. Always make sure you have your contact lens care kit with you wherever you go. This will ensure that you have sufficient supply of contact lenses, as well as the right amount of solution and other essentials you need to care for them.
Staying hydrated is not only important for your body, but for your eyes as well. Make sure water is a staple in your travel packs – remember that car aircons and moving air causes tears to eevaporate quicker and the eye surface to dry out. Red scratchy eyes will not make road challenges easier.
If you are having doubts that your eyes may not be up to the task of driving, observe the notion of safety first, and do not take the risk. Rather get your eyes tested by a professional optometrist well before your departure, to ensure you have sufficient time to fill a prescription if necessary. Noach adds that anyone can visit their local Vision Works optometrist for a comprehensive eye test, for only a R90 cash fee.
“I would advise all drivers that they must have the best possible eyewear in place, in order for them to ensure their safety during their festive driving. While we all enjoy meeting new people and creating new friendships along our journeys, as the old adage goes – let’s not meet by accident,” Noach concludes.