Driving Abroad Q & A’s

Local optometrist Paul McDonald answers your questions and gives advice on common eye problems.

Driving abroad

Q: I am going to be driving in Europe on holiday and have heard it is law to have spare glasses in case one set gets broken.  In which countries do I need to have a spare pair?

A. It is not against the law to drive abroad without a spare set of spectacles in Europe, although it is highly recommended.   If you require spectacles to drive and your glasses break, it would be illegal to drive without your full correction and your car and possibly travel insurance would become invalid if you drive without them.

In the UK it is also very advisable to have a spare pair kept in your glove box, to ensure you can still drive if your vision is below the legal limit for driving without them.  It is also important to have prescription sunglasses or clip-ons, for the car.  If driving abroad in brighter conditions.   Photochromic (Transitions) lenses do not work so well, because they are activated by UV and this is mostly blocked by the windscreen.

The same applies to contact lenses, as we quite often take them for granted.  If they are rigid gas permeable,   these can take up to a week to manufacture a new pair.  In the main, most patients now wear disposable contact lenses,  but quite often only go out wearing the pair they put in that morning.  It is therefore advisable to keep a spare set of contact lenses (or spectacles) in the glove box, because if they dry out, they can get rubbed out or very occasionally split.

I did have a patient who was very short sighted and he was taking his caravan to France.  On the crossing to Dieppe he went on deck to get some air and while looking down at the waves his spectacles fell into the sea.  He was unable to see to drive his car and caravan off the ferry and had to get a kind lorry driver drove it off for him. He then spent several days in Dieppe waiting for a new pair to be made.

So in summary, keep spare contact lenses or spectacles in the glove box for all driving.

It is important to have regular eye examinations so contact your Optometrist to arrange an appointment.

If you have any questions that you would like to ask please contact him or his colleagues at the practice in Lewes at Wilson,Wilson and Hancock

01273 472360

Independent Optometrists and Contact lens practitioners since 1949

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