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Every second truck driver in India has impaired vision: Expert

A random sight-testing drive among truck drivers conducted over four years in India has revealed that almost every second truck driver suffers from vision-related impairments.

The sight testing drive was jointly conducted among 34,000 truck drivers by Noida-based ICARE Eye Hospital and Sightgivers, a voluntary organisation working in the field of vision-related issues in the National Capital Region.

While approximately 38% of the truckers tested were found to have near-vision problems, 8% were found to have distance-vision problems, and 4% reported having both.

What worried the volunteers conducting the tests was that none of the truckers was using glasses.

The majority of cases of near-vision problems were found in the 36-50 age group, while 45% of all cases of distance-vision problems were found in the younger age group of 18-35 years.

“As an eye hospital, we have been aware that a large number of accidents on Indian roads happen because of vision-related problems of drivers,” Dr Saurabh Choudhry, Chief Executive Officer of ICARE Eye Hospital, said while commenting on the findings.

“Most truck drivers tested by us did not realise they had a compromised vision and had never undergone any eye examination,” he added.

Pointing out that impaired vision makes these drivers prone to accidents, Dr Chaudhary said, “There are nine million truck drivers on Indian roads. Extrapolating the data from our field study, we can assume that half of them would be having vision problems.”

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“They would have been deemed unfit to drive without proper glasses and eye checkups had they been in any Western country,” he stressed.

The ophthalmologist said that their investigation, a part of the Raahi Programme that began in 2017 and tested over 34,000 truckers by visiting them in the transport hubs, revealed that most of them suffered from refractive errors. “In association with our partner Sightsavers, we provided the drivers ready-to-clip spectacles and dispensed glasses on the spot.”

“For those having complex refractive errors, the glasses were customised and given to them on the next stop in their road journey. Using various technology tools and apps, we made sure they were wearing the glasses on the highways while driving,” Dr Chaudhary added.

Pointing out that the unorganised nature of their work and the absence of curative eye check-ups in the rural areas discourage truck drivers from taking their health issues seriously, Dr Chaudhary said, “As a result, they have never been screened for glasses or eye diseases.”

“In our experience, most truck drivers tend to develop dry eyes and chronic allergic eye conditions due to long working hours and improper hygiene,” he added.

“Many drivers above 60 years of age also suffer from cataracts or glaucoma. A routine eye check-up is a must for all truck drivers so that they remain safe for themselves and others,” he further added.

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