50% of truck drivers have compromised vision, eye checkups by ICARE Eye Hospital reveal

NOIDA / January 17, 2023: Around 50% of all truck drivers driving on India roads suffer from vision-related problems. This startling fact has been revealed after eye tests of 34,000 truck drivers conducted by ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, in association with the no-profit Sightsavers India.

About 38% of the truckers tested were found to suffer from near-vision problems, 8% from distance-vision problems and 4% from both distance- and near-vision problems. None of the truckers was using glasses. Majority of cases of near-vision problems were found in the 36-50 age group. Interestingly, 45% of all cases of distance-vision problems were found in the younger age group of 18-35 years.

Said Dr. Saurabh Choudhry, CEO, ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida, one of Delhi-NCR’s oldest and largest NABH-accredited eye hospitals established in 1993: “As an eye hospital, we have been aware that large number of accidents on Indian roads happen because of vision-related problems of drivers. Most truck drivers tested by us did not realize they had a compromised vision and had never undergone any eye examination. This left them prone to accidents. There are 9 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. They would have been deemed unfit to drive without proper glasses and eye checkup had they been in any Western country.”

Dr. Saurabh Choudhry added: “Upon screening and investigating the truck drivers, we found that they mostly suffered from refractive errors. In association with our partner Sightsavers, we provided the drivers ready-to-clip (R2C) spectacles and dispensed glasses on the spot. For those having complex refractive errors, the glasses were customized 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.”

According to the doctor, the unorganized nature of their work discourages truck drivers from taking their health issues seriously. Most of them hail from rural areas with no facility of preventive or curative eye check-ups. 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. Many drivers above 60 years of age also suffer from cataract or glaucoma. A routine eye check-up is a must for all truck drivers so that they remain safe for themselves and others,” said Dr. Saurabh Choudhry.

Keeping in mind the safety of commuters on the highways, Sightsavers India, an NGO working in the field of sight restoration and visual loss, started the RAAHI – National Truckers Eye Health Programme in 2017, in association with Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Ltd. ICARE Eye Hospital joined the initiative in 2018, and since then has screened 34,000 truck drivers for eye diseases and refractive errors.

Twenty days in a month, a team of ophthalmologists from the hospital visits trucking hubs of Delhi-NCR, where most truck drivers stop for resting, to administer them an eye checkup. The program seeks to ensure that truckers with refractive errors receive glasses in the most convenient way possible, they wear them consistently, and seek regular eye examinations.

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