Spain’s Traffic Department (DGT) has issued new recommendations for those with visual defects, estimated to affect 80% of the Spanish population.
First published on April 1st in the April edition of the Gazette.
The main visual problems affecting drivers are short- and long-sightedness, astigmatism and hypermetropy. Elena Valdés, the medical assessor for the DGT, offers the following recommendations for those with visual impairment:
• Always wear your glasses or contact lenses to get the best vision behind the wheel. This is a legal requirement, and you’re also required to keep a spare set of glasses or contacts in your car.
• If you’re short-sighted, it is recommended that you use progressive lenses so that you can observe the information you receive from the vehicle’s dashboard.
• Sunglasses that prevent glare make driving more comfortable.
• If you have difficulties driving at night (you can’t distinguish signs well, you don’t judge depth well, etc.), avoid driving at night or when there are poor lighting conditions (rain, fog…). Plan trips avoiding adverse weather conditions.
• Slow down – increasing speed reduces the field of view.
• If you take any drugs that affect your vision, follow your doctor’s advice and avoid night driving.
• If you take medication that dilates your pupils, do not drive until the effect of the medication wears off.
• Try to drive on familiar and uncrowded routes.
On Lanzarote, you’ll find the main hazards with vision are brightness. If you’re driving east at sunrise or west at sundown, the glare of the sun can seriously affect vision and means that sunglasses are a pretty vital piece of equipment.
Dust from calimas is rarely thick enough to make lack of visibility a risk, but it can quickly accumulate on windscreens and windows, which will need regularly wiping down. Dust can also affect your eyes, and if you’re feeling irritation or itching, take a rest and give them a break.
Heavy rainfall on Lanzarote is rare, but when it occurs it can also cut vision right down. Make sure your windscreen wipers are always in good working order, because once the heavens open you’ll be needing them to work at full potential.
In Spain, eye tests are required every time you renew your driving licence. For a normal car, this usually takes place every 10 years if you’re under the age of 65, and every five years thereafter (although certain medical conditions such as heart conditions may cause shorter expiry dates).
The eye test will be carried out at a special testing centre, and be accompanied by a hearing test and a reactions test.
It’s a good idea to get an eye test at an optician before your renewal, to ensure that you will pass the official test. If you’ve had eye surgery recently, licences may be postponed or renewed for a shorter period.
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