Almost half of all New Zealand drivers have professed to experiencing vision difficulty while behind the wheel, according to new research commissioned by Specsavers.

Independent research conducted by Perceptive captured the responses of 1,005 New Zealand adults in February 2017, which were then calculated against the latest New Zealand Census data.

The results showed 42% of New Zealanders over the age of 18 had experienced vision difficulties, including difficulty reading road signs, blurred vision, strain while trying to read road maps or GPS navigation systems, headaches or dizziness, and squinting.

“Many people don’t realise that vision changes over time, especially around the age of 40,” Specsavers New Lynn Optometry Partner Philip Walsh explained. “Changes can happen so slowly that many don’t realise their vision has deteriorated.”

Roger Venn, General Manager for the New Zealand Automobile Association’s (AA) Driving School, added, “On top of people not realising the deterioration of their vision, there is a perception among some glasses-wearing drivers that travelling a short distance without your glasses is okay, but it’s just not true. You are putting yourself and others on the road at unnecessary risk.”

About a quarter (27.5%) of New Zealand licence holders are required to wear corrective lenses while driving.

“If people are having any trouble seeing while behind the wheel it’s a real concern and they should have their eyes professionally checked straight away,” Roger stated.

Five years ago, Specsavers and AA formed a partnership that entitles AA members to a free eye exam every two years. Since then, Specsavers stores have carried out more than 500,000 free exams for AA members.