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Sight test reveals stroke risk for coach and bus drivers

 

Sharpes of Nottingham encouraged its fleet of drivers to have an essential eye test in support of Road Safety Week, 19 to 25 November, with one driver’s high blood pressure being picked up.

The detection, made during a routine eye test, will allow the condition to be monitored and treated – which is vital as high blood pressure is a key risk factor for stroke.

The Vision Express’ Vision Van visited the company as part of its Eye Tests Save Lives campaign, which is committed to reducing around 3,000 road casualties each year that are attributed to poor driver sight.

Simon Hassell (47) from Nottingham, who received the high blood pressure warning, says: “My last eye test was only a couple of years ago, but I’ve found out today that I need glasses. The referral to my doctor for high blood pressure came as a shock – I didn’t know an eye test could detect something like that. You only go to your doctors when you’re feeling unwell and I felt fine, so who knows when the high blood pressure would have been detected without the eye test.

“I came onboard the Vision Van because it was really convenient, being at my place of work. Big companies should be encouraging their staff to have eye tests regularly.”

Since it started with three vehicles in 2004, Sharpes of Nottingham has expanded to a fleet of 50 with 50 drivers.

Operations director James Sharpe says: “We supported this initiative because we acknowledge that the health and safety of professional drivers is a crucial part of reducing accidents on UK roads. As Group 2 licence-holders, bus drivers need to meet higher vision standards than other drivers, but there is no legal obligation for eye tests every two years, as recommended by the NHS.

“All of our drivers who visited the Vision Van had undergone an eye test since passing their test but that’s not necessarily the norm within the professional driving community. We know from Vision Express that eye test uptake is an issue within the UK’s general driving population, so we’re happy to help it spread the message to all about the importance of regular eye tests.”

According to the Department for Transport’s latest figures, the average age of UK bus and coach drivers is 49, with 25% of them aged 60 or over.  Given the increased risk of high blood pressure for ages 40 to 70 and research revealing high blood pressure is a common occupational health issue for bus and coach drivers, Vision Express is urging the industry to monitor their health by having regular eye tests.

Jay Ghadiali, director of professional services at Vision Express, adds: “As Simon’s experience highlights, even if you believe your vision is fine, it is still crucial to get a regular eye test, and the NHS recommends one at least every two years. The value of sight checks is as a preventive step to safeguard vision for life, and our expert optometrists can help detect a range of conditions, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

Over half of all strokes can be caused by high blood pressure , and it is estimated that over 5million people across the UK do not realise they have the condition.

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