New research led by Queen’s University Belfast indicates that urgent action is required to reduce the number of road traffic accidents which can be attributed to poor vision.
The study’s findings were the product of the first comprehensive review to highlight the link between poor vision and traffic safety in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).
As the main cause of death among people aged 5 to 29 years across the globe, road traffic injuries are a major public health concern. If the proper steps aren’t taken to try reduce this statistic, road traffic accidents will one of the leading causes of death worldwide by 2030.
The review on the Queen’s University website says that: “Though only 60% of the world’s cars are driven on the roads of low and middle-income countries, 90% of traffic deaths occur there.”
The review produced a number of key findings: many drivers in LMICs have poor vision; the majority of these drivers never had vision testing; there is a clear correlation between poor vision and the risk of crashes.
You’re probably thinking that poor vision being a factor in road accidents isn’t anything new, however, Nathan Congdon, Professor at the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulverscroft Chair of Global Eye Health acknowledged this and explained why this new research is so important:
“It may seem obvious that poor vision is connected causally with unsafe roads, but in fact prior reviews, and most research in the area, has focused on rich countries, where we actually do a pretty good job of keeping drivers with poor vision off the roads. But once we focused solely on low and middle-income countries, a very different picture came into focus. There are many drivers with poor vision on the roads in these settings, and it seems apparent that they explain an important part of the high number of road traffic accidents occurring there.
“Our review shows that more needs to be done to urgently address the link between poor vision and road safety and to reduce the high rate of road mortality in LMICs, especially among young people. We expect that these new findings will be used to inform major trials on vision and traffic safety in LMICs and in turn to guide strategies to address visual impairments among drivers, the very large majority of which are readily treatable. Tighter enforcement of existing regulations is needed, combined with on-site access to vision services for those failing testing,” he added.
So now you see that despite the large number of traffic crashes in LMIC’s, there hasn’t been enough evidence to show an association between road accidents and poor function of vision before this review. Without evidence there is no real way to make the authorities develop the needed vision-based road crash prevention strategies.
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