Published on September 29th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair0
Malaysian Society of Opthalmology Responds To PDRM’s Comments
Good eyesight is key to road safety, and it’s not just an issue among the elderly according to local experts.
Yesterday, we published our thoughts on the recently dispelled rumour that the government would consider restricting the renewal of driving licenses for older Malaysians. We were then contacted by the Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology (MSO), who had published their own statement on the 27th of September 2021 regarding PDRM’s comments.
Here it is in full:
The Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology notes the recent proposal by an individual at the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) regarding drivers’ licence renewal and age. While we acknowledge that good vision is one of the most important aspects to being able to drive safely, and that sight can deteriorate with ageing due to numerous conditions, the health-related causes of motor-vehicular accidents (MVA) involving a particular age group are numerous. Poor vision can also affect those under the age of 60 and therefore awareness of maintaining good vision for driving would be the first priority. There are also many drivers of all age groups who drive with sub-optimal vision due to correctable visual pathology. The issue here should not be about age, but rather the fitness to drive of the individual and his vehicle’s roadworthiness.
Legislating a ‘stick’ in revoking licences with only age as a factor and prior to stakeholder consultation and proper policies being in place would be premature. Until such time, the MSO would encourage members of the PDRM and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to be more aware of vision-related conditions which may require consultation with a healthcare professional. There are many aspects of vision beyond discerning letters and alphabets which can affect driving, including contrast sensitivity and visual field which should be taken into consideration and the MSO would be
pleased to help build this awareness amongst the relevant government agencies. Heavy-goods vehicle and public-service vehicle drivers especially require more regular medical checks as MSO members have frequently encountered young patients still operating heavy machinery with levels of vision far below the legal limit. In Malaysia, patient confidentiality dictates that the onus is on the patient to report this to the authorities.
The MSO would urge the public and authorities to focus on accident prevention which encompasses not just visual, cognitive and physical health but also to ensure vehicular and road conditions are optimal. Examples include the mandatory upkeep of vehicles and regulation of digital billboards that are in drivers’ line of sight, many of which are
excessively bright. The need for private transportation can also be drastically reduced with the availability of viable alternatives such as disabled-friendly infrastructure and good public transportation with ‘last-mile’ connectivity.
The MSO would like to strongly encourage the public to voluntarily have their health and eyesight checked regularly. It is generally encouraged that children up to the age of 12 and those aged 40 and above have a routine annual eye check with their optometrist or eye specialist.