A query recently received at the Membership Department asked if it would be illegal for someone to wear ready readers for driving. The answer is a little complicated, which is not unusual in these columns.
It is not illegal for anyone to use ready readers for driving, providing the vision they achieve is up to the standard required by the DVLA. On the other hand, the law states very clearly that ready readers may be sold solely for the correction of presbyopia. This means they may not be sold to a patient asking for something to drive at night in. But is it reasonable to expect the shop assistant in the pound shop or similar to ask what the customer intends to use them for?
I think a disclaimer on the sign above the display, advising customers that the readers are only for close work and should not be worn for driving, would be a sensible solution but I doubt that would happen in many outlets. It might dissuade some from buying them, but not all by any means.
Then there is the thorny issue of Internet sales; we have all seen ready readers for sale online in a range of guises, sunglasses, bifocal etc, all contrary to the Opticians Act. And we have all been horrified by the availability of minus lenses in ‘ready reader’ form; lenses of equal power, not centred correctly or conforming to any prescription in date or otherwise, which members of the public may purchase for driving or any other activity.
Certainly, this is illegal but prosecuting websites is a difficult and costly business. Is it good use of registrants’ money to pursue such cases? ABDO has encouraged the GOC to write to the large companies reminding them of the law and the possibility of litigation. There was a mixed response: some sites heeded the warning, some did not.
The simple answer to the query is that it is not illegal to wear ready readers to drive but it is illegal to sell them for that purpose. As I said earlier, it’s complicated isn’t it?