The 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.
It is a known fact that a large number of accidents on Indian roads happen because of vision-related problems of drivers. Most truck drivers tested did not realize they had 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 the field study, researchers can assume that half of them would be having vision problems. They would have been deemed unfit to drive without proper glasses and eye checkups had they been in any Western country.
Upon screening and investigating the truck drivers, they found that they mostly suffered from refractive errors. In association with their partner Sightsavers, doctors provided the drivers with 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 trip. Using various technology tools and apps, they made sure that were wearing glasses on the highways while driving.
The unorganized nature of truck drivers discourages them from taking their health issues seriously. Most of them hail from rural areas with no facility for preventive or curative eye check-ups. As a result, they have never been screened for glasses or eye diseases.
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 cataracts or glaucoma. Therefore, a routine eye check-up should be made mandatory for all truck drivers.
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 a month, a team of ophthalmologists from the hospital visits the trucking hubs of Delhi-NCR, where most truck drivers stop for rest, to administer an eye checkup.
The program seeks to ensure that truckers with refractive errors receive glasses in the most convenient way possible, wear them consistently, and seek regular eye examinations.