MORE than two million motorists, including company car and van drivers, could be getting behind the wheel with defective eyesight, putting themselves and other drivers' lives in danger.
Latest research based on eye tests throughout the UK has estimated 2.5 million drivers have poor, uncorrected eyesight.
The findings came to light during a survey carried out in Glasgow, Manchester, Coventry and London, in which just under 1,000 adults who have not had eyesight correction, two-thirds of them car drivers, were given a basic eye test.
Of those, 35% failed a basic Snellen Chart test (the standard eyesight test used by opticians). Of those, 33% of the failures said they were 'not surprised'.
Spread across the car driving population, millions of drivers are putting themselves at risk, but many do so because of outdated information about contact lenses and preconceived ideas about glasses, according to study author Dr June McNicholas, senior research psychologist at the University of Warwick.
Many had taken a conscious decision not to have their vision corrected, among them accountants, architects, nurses, dentists and a taxi driver.
Dr McNicholas said: 'We found that many people have a fear of contact lenses based on the idea that they haven't changed since the hard lenses of the 1960s – lenses that had more in common with the original 'plate glass' designs first proposed by Leonardo da Vinci.
'And when it comes to glasses, many of us still labour with the idea of NHS spectacle designs of the same era.'
. The results showed that 78% of people cited discomfort as a reason why they would not have their eyesight corrected with contact lenses, 67% thought lenses would be a hassle and 60% also thought that lenses would pose a risk to their eyes.
Dr McNicholas added: 'These beliefs bear no reflection on reality. Recent advances in contact lens manufacture and the development of new materials now make it almost impossible to know you're wearing lenses within a couple of minutes of first putting them in.'
As for glasses, 73% thought they would find them irritating to wear and 52% didn't like the way that glasses would make them look. Laser eye surgery was seen as too expensive (73%), too risky (37%), or people just didn't like 'the idea of surgery on their eyes' (52%).