Friday, July 26, 2013

Practice Update, Pennsylvania Driver's License Vision Requirements

Hello everyone,

I seems that my blog posts have been sporadic lately, but there is good reason for that. Things have been very busy this past year at the practice. If you remember, I opened Weaver Eye Care Associates in January of 2011, now almost two and a half years ago! With any new cold start practice, business is a snails pace, which gave me plenty of time to write blog articles.

The business grew 20% in the following year, 2012. Empty spaces on the schedule were less, and more eyeglasses and contact lenses were ordered. I fly a banner in front of my office welcoming new patients. I send out practice emails to those who are lucky enough to have already visited the office, keeping you updated on practice specials and news. I advertise mostly through postcard mailers, which seems better than newspaper advertisements. The ABSOLUTE BEST advertisement, though, is the word of mouth referrals. Despite all of this, there are many, many people who still do not know that there is an eye doctor in Bernville...

So far, in 2013, the business is growing and it's looking like at least 25% growth from 2012 so far, which could be higher or lower than that depending on the rest of the year. The positive thing about this is that the practice is heading in the right direction. So, I'd like to extend a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who are satisfied patients, as well as friends and family that support me.

Now, onto the vision topic of the day...

I have patients that come into my office sometimes with a Pennsylvania Driver's License examination form. Mostly, patients get this form in the mail randomly from PennDOT to ensure that the driver's vision is "up to par" so that they are legal to drive.

So, what is legal to drive? If you can see 20/40 or better with both eyes, you are legal to drive. If you can get this without glasses or contact lenses, you do not need a "corrective lenses" restriction on your license. If you can not see 20/40 without glasses or contacts, but the glasses or contact lenses allow you to see better than 20/40, you get the "corrective lenses" restrictions, meaning you must wear your eyeglasses or contact lenses to drive. Otherwise, you will get in trouble if you get pulled over.

If your vision is not correctable to 20/40 with both eyes, but can be 20/70 or better, you may drive ONLY during daylight hours. If your vision is not correctable to 20/70 but is better than 20/100, you also have to take and successfully pass a driver's examination, you are limited to certain roads (no highways), can only drive passenger vehicles (no motorcycles), are limited to a certain radius around your house, AND must get approval from the eye doctor.

At least they ended up at the right place...

If your vision is not correctable to 20/100 with both eyes (that's just two lines down from the big E, FYI), you are out of luck. You are not legal to drive.

In addition, you must have good peripheral vision as well, as this can restrict your license.

From my experience, most PA Driver's license vision exam forms that I fill out is just a precautionary measure. Those patients are already legal to drive, and they can continue to do so even after seeing me for my professional evaluation. However, there are times where a patient's vision has become so poor that they should not be driving, and when I tell them that fact, their response is usually: "I'm fine. It's just a little blurry." This is when they can only make out the big E with both eyes, 20/400.

She's not even looking through her glasses!

The issues are eye conditions or prescription changes that cause visual blur. The blurred vision changes can be sudden, but usually it's such a slow, gradual change that the patient adapts to the blur as it occurs, kind of like the 6-year-old in Kindergarten or First Grade that sits in front of the classroom because he/she can't read the board from the back of the room. The kid doesn't know he/she needs glasses. The child just adapts.

The purpose of the PA Driver's License exam form isn't to ostracize elderly drivers, even though there is humor revolving around that topic (see photo above). It's to make driving safe and remind people to get their eyes examined more than once every 20 years. Many times, a patient may just need a change in their eyeglasses prescription to get him/her back to legal driving status. Or, maybe there is a huge cataract causing the problems and the patient needs cataract surgery to give the best vision to him/her in numerous years. Or, it's possible the patient has glaucoma and doesn't know it...they've permanently lost his/her peripheral vision and are not legal to drive, but the condition is still caught by the optometrist so the patient can undergo treatment to preserve the remaining vision so complete blindness doesn't occur.

So, I hope all of you are driving safe. And if you're having any visual difficulty driving, like in the rain or at night, your vision may not be optimal. It would probably be safer for you and other drivers and pedestrians to get an eye exam and see what the heck is going you don't have to cringe when you get that dreaded letter in the mail from PennDOT.

Dr. Weaver

Ps. Oh! And I think the Berks Mont newspapers Blue Ribbon Award voting is happening soon. Don't forget to vote (for us). 2012 winners in Eye Care last year. Hope we get two years in a row!