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    Poor night vision a serious issue for drivers, say B.C. Optometrists

    Vancouver, April 28, 2008 – Poor night vision can be a serious issue for workers who regularly drive in the dark as part of their job, according to the B.C. Association of Optometrists.

    At night, road fatalities are about three times higher than in the day.

    “About 90 per cent of a driver’s reaction is dependent on their vision,” says B.C. Optometrist, Dr. Giovanni Cinel, who works with the association’s Occupational Vision Plan, “so anything you can do to maintain or improve your night vision will increase your safety on the road.”

    Most important, Dr. Cinel recommends regular, comprehensive eye exams to address any eye health issues that may be affecting night vision.

    “A change in your night vision can be an early sign of eye or vision problems – so you shouldn’t ignore it,” warns Dr. Cinel. “In fact, you should have an eye exam every two years, whether you notice any changes or not. Many problems develop gradually and don’t have symptoms at the start when they are most easily treated.”

    Night vision can be impaired by any number of vision or eye health factors, including:

    • on-going eyestrain, which can lead to headaches and blurred vision
    • natural reduction in the eye’s ability to see certain colours at night
    • dilation of the eye in the dark, which increases a driver’s sensitivity to glare
    • the declining ability of the eyes to focus quickly as we age
    • astigmatism – a common condition characterized by an irregularly shaped eye surface, which can cause blurred vision and increase a driver’s sensitivity to light or glare
    • clouding of the cornea and lens of the eye as we age, and
    • eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, corneal anomalies, or diabetic retinopathy – which, combined, affect about one-third of all people age 40 and older.

    Optometrists can correct astigmatism with prescription glasses and contacts, and can also recommend special coatings on eyeglasses to reduce glare at night. They also warn those who drive at night to think twice about choosing prescription eyeglass lenses with a permanent tint.

    “There are already enough factors outside of your control that reduce your night vision,” says Dr. Cinel. “I would recommend caution when choosing a permanent tint because darker tints – greater than 30% – will reduce your visual ability and safety even further. Corey Hart may wear his sunglasses at night, but drivers certainly shouldn’t!”

    The Occupational Vision Plan (OVP) is an employee eye safety program operated by the B.C. Association of Optometrists. With a province-wide network of more than 270 optometrists, OVP has been providing expert eye care and leading prescription safety eyewear to B.C. workplaces for more than 20 years.

    For more information on eye health, or to locate an OVP optometrist near you, visit www.ovp.bc.ca.

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    For more information contact: Mahafrine Petigara, media relations, 604.623.3007