Ophthalmologist wants eye exams for older drivers

Shillingford-Ricketts believes older drivers should get eye exams
Shillingford-Ricketts believes older drivers should get eye exams

Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts, is making a case for older drivers to get eye exams since there are many who are nearly blind and putting the lives of many people at risk.

She made the remarks while delivering a presentation on the observation of World Glaucoma Week at the Grand Bay Heath Center on Thursday.

“It is very important, because if we look at the diseases that cause people to go blind, they become more prevalent when they get older,” she noted.

According to her, when someone in their early 20’s goes for a driver’s license, most likely they have normal vision.

“They will be good to drive but when they reach age 50 they may have developed glaucoma, cataract …they may develop diabetes or diabetic retinopathy, and you will not know,” she said.

She argues that it is important for older drivers to get eye exams in order to be ensure “their vision is safe for them to drive on the road.”

Meantime, Shillingford-Ricketts is arguing that glaucoma medication should be made readily available to patients at no cost.

She pointed out that patients may have to use medication for life and at this point most of them are not available in the government formulary.

“So the patients have to buy it, and they can only access it in private pharmacies or at the hospital,” she stated.

She remarked that those living in the country areas have to make their way to Roseau to buy the medication, which in many cases is not readily available, and in most cases they cannot even afford it.

“And these impacts on how well the patients can use their medications, because if they do not have money to buy it, or cannot get to buy it they will be without it and their disease will be uncontrolled,” she said. ““I am asking all other medication for the Chronic Non-Communicable diseases that we provide those medications free of charge for the patients.”

Dr. Shillingford-Ricketts noted that the majority of glaucoma cases are in the 80-year range with 25 percent affected.

When asked whether the public awareness campaign of the disease is hitting its mark, Shillingford-Ricketts responded that it was and during the time it began that more people started having their eyes tested or seeking information.

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32 Comments

  1. Mon
    March 16, 2014

    Just for the record to obtain a drivers liscence you must have a theory test first followed by an eye exam mandatory regardless the age of a person and then a practical test to grant the liscence .

  2. ##D.A.##.
    March 16, 2014

    It must be sunday, when I read D.N.O and certain news items. Thanks for the information and the news D.N.O. I agree with the Doctor 100%. But sometimes I wonder why we always have to have a press conference or “BERAKING NEWS” TO point these basic requirements which forms an integral part of our well being. Those tips and other related Educational advise should form part and parcel in the whole picture. Thanks Very much for the awareness.

  3. Young man sight
    March 16, 2014

    Can something be done for the Mighty Omee? Thank you.

  4. Anonymous
    March 15, 2014

    if we do this, we need more than one eye doctor on the island. Very difficult to get an eye exam. Also for doctor. No appointments. First come first serve. ugh.

    • Anonymous
      March 16, 2014

      One needs to know the difference between ophthalmologist and optometrist and optician. So we have more than one person who can conduct tests of the eyes.
      I applaud Dr Shillingford for her efforts in getting persons who shouldn’t be driving off the road. I’m begging the authorities PLEASE heed her call before someone gets killed by one these drivers.
      It is hard for the elderly to give up their independence and admit their decline. I know it took a while to persuade my Dad although his sight was perfect but his reactions were slowing down for the driving on the road.
      People should be made to resit their drivers tests every decade in the interest of road safety.

  5. WeAreOne
    March 14, 2014

    Thanks Educator and Telemaque. I also live in the US and I have been driving for 27 years. I had to get my vision test 3 times. That’s in 2 different states none the less.

  6. WeAreOne
    March 14, 2014

    I agree with the Dr.100%; an eye exam is necessary. You must do one in the US. Eye exams should be also done in the schools once a year, or at a doctor’s office. I did not go to an ophthalmologist until I was 20 years in DA. Thanks God I still have healthy eyes.

  7. jeffrey
    March 14, 2014

    I basically agree with the thoughts expressed here. However, like with everything there should be balance. Francisco Telemaque, you said the D/can public believes more in obeah and the Rastaman than modern medicine. Well Sir modern medicine is derived from Herbal medicine(Rastaman). A matter of fact, In Canada, naturopathic medicine is on the rise. Consuming Organic foods and eating “ital type” prepared is on the rise. Therefore, let’s not be so quick to make blanket statements. We do need doctors to diagnose but we also need the natural living of the rastaman/medicine woman or your grandma. We need balance sir.

  8. March 14, 2014

    An eye exam is MANDATORY when taking a driving test. NOT only OLDER people have eye issues. EVERY ONE at ANY AGE MUST take the EYE EXAM when applying for a driver’s license.

  9. Educator
    March 14, 2014

    This is just one area that should be monitored. There are several other things that should be monitored for the better health of the people.

    Just last night I was watching the news and there is a huge prevelance of kidney failure due to high blood pressure and diabetes. Early detection would go a long way to either arrest or slow the progression of problem.

    Therefore we also need to closely monitor blood pressure and diabetes and kidney function.

    There are a lot of things that are not being done that should be routine and as the good doctor said about mandatory eye exams, other doctors should also push to get the other routine tests done.

  10. gwaj
    March 14, 2014

    I am young and need glasses to drive so that is ageism right there. Everyone ought to pass an eye test, doc.

  11. DON'T YOU KNOW?
    March 14, 2014

    Vision testing should be a requisite for passing a driver’s test. In fact, it should be mandatory.

  12. Valley Rat
    March 14, 2014

    That is an excellent idea, there are to many bus drivers on the road driving people driving customer every day with bad eye site,and they only think of the money. This particular Roseau valley bus driver need to take an eye test, he driving in the middle of the road.

  13. March 14, 2014

    I agree with this decision. This will going to help in controlling road accidents

  14. Simply the Truth
    March 13, 2014

    Cost of doctors’ visit and medication of all are expensive. Some people are reluctant to go to a doctor as also an eye doctor due to the cost in addition to purchasing medication and receive hospital care.
    If only Dominica had a national hospital insurance plan, it would make it easier for them and on their pockets. I realize that this Plan must somehow be paid for. The government could probably consider this, how it will be paid, in what manner and by whom. It is worth considering for the future.

  15. li
    March 13, 2014

    Every boby should have an eye exam before a drivers license is issued. You might find younger people with worst eyesight than the older people.

  16. unique
    March 13, 2014

    dem young drivers need to check their eyes to :-D :-D

  17. Joe
    March 13, 2014

    With those expired machine you got.

    • JoJo
      March 14, 2014

      Joe, you are just a miserable curmudgeon ( I look up that word specially for you in the dictionary). Good for Dr. Ricketts. All drivers should pass an eye test before they are given a license in the first place, young or old, doesn’t matter. Also, we should only employ certified instructors for teaching driving. Too may people not using mirrors or indicators.

  18. Jon Carson
    March 13, 2014

    Dr. Shillingford-Ricketts, I concur and support that 100%. In fact, that should have already been a requirement by the Traffic Department for license renewal anyway. Great move so let’s get it done.

  19. Francisco Telemaque
    March 13, 2014

    She argues that it is important for older drivers to get eye exams in order to be ensure “their vision is safe for them to drive on the road.”(Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts).

    We all know by now that most Dominicans, are reluctant to go to visit doctors when they are ill, even when they are feeling an abundance of discomfort (pain). In our country anytime someone feels a pain, it matters not what part of the body is affected by the pain; they quickly jump to the conclusion that it is nothing more than “a gas” is the cause of the pain.

    If they in pain, left unattended, I do not see how they seek attention for their eye with no pain!

    I have a relative who actually try to convinced me he was sick; hospitalized at Princes Margaret Hospital, he claimed the treatment he received from the doctors, did not work, he knew that gas was his problem, and one day whiles in the hospital, he began to pass gas, pass gas, pass gas, pass gas; and by the time he was through farting down the hospital his problem was cured, and he was released from the hospital. I try to explain to him how movement of gas and the mechanisms that regulate release of gastric juice, and how the movement of gas within the stomach secretory and activity works.

    I ask my cousin to explain to me if someone is experiencing some pain anywhere in the anterior (back), how would the movement of gas in the gastrointestinal tract be the cause? he could not answer, yet he holds the belief it is gas.

    I could not convince him; our people are stock in their old fashion way, they believe the obeah man, or the Rastaman rather than indulging in modern medicine. Our country is so backward, but maybe it is time for the department of Motor Vehicle to introduce the Vision Chart used by ophthalmologist for the examination of vision, allowing the prospective driver, and those renewing their license to stand at a distance and read out the letters.

    If their vision is bad, cannot see the department of Motor Vehicles should suspend their license taking them off the road. In the United States, if you are a good driver, your drivers license will come to you in the mail, however at least once every five years the DMV will advise you to go to an DMV to retake the written test, and the visual test at the same time, if you fail any of the two; a driver licence will not be issued to you.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

    • Simply the Truth
      March 13, 2014

      ‘stuck’. We all make typographical errors. :)

      Excellent information.

    • Francisco Telemaque
      March 13, 2014

      “If they in pain, left unattended, I do not see how they seek attention for their eye with no pain!”

      That should read: “If they are in pain, and they leave it unattended, I do not see how they will seek attention for their with no pain!

      I need to add here; just because someone is young, twenty years old does not mean they cannot have impaired vision, because there are children as young as two years old who cannot see five feet in front of them without the aid of eye glasses. Lots of people are born with an eye stigmas, that caused them to ware spectacles all of their natural life.

      In view of that we know there are plenty of people; young, middle age, and people in their eighty’s driving with some form of vision impairment. In Dominica, the is that their is no way to keep these vision impaired drivers off the road. the easiest way to eliminate the worst of the worst, is to introduce the vision chart. Another thing is that there are people in Dominica, who cannot read, yet they have driver license.

      They do not give us a written drivers test at home, it is time the system is updated to involve a written test, along with taking the visual chart test!

      Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

    • Educator
      March 14, 2014

      FET, how can you make a blanket statement that “In the United States, if you are a good driver, your drivers license will come to you in the mail, however at least once every five years the DMV will advise you to go to an DMV to retake the written test, and the visual test at the same time”

      Firstly, your driver’s licence is not issued every year.

      Secondly, the DMV is not a federal agency. Driver’s licences are regulated by the states and every state has its own laws.

      I have been driving for over 30 years and I only had my vision checked once by the DMV. Now is is the law where I live that if on a private routine exam, your vision falls below a certain level, the optometrist is obligtated to report it to the DMV and you must get corrective lenses to drive, otherwise you will be ticketed if you are stopped and are not wearing contacts or glasses.

      • Francisco Telemaque
        March 14, 2014

        Educator, I live in the State of California, I have been living here for more than thirty years. One year after receiving my CA drivers license, I got five citations in one day; all for speeding, I receive a letter from the DMV informing me if I was ever caught again going over the speed limit, or if I caused, or believed to have caused an accident, my drivers license would be suspended!

        Just about the same time of renewal. I had to go to retake the written test, along with the visual card test.

        Since then I have never had another violation which attracts the attention of the DMV; hence, when the licence was sent to me the expiration date on it was five years from the day it was issued. Since then every five years, I have to go to the DMV to repeat the process.

        Mind you I am hyperglycemic (Diabetic) nevertheless, I still boast a 20/20 vision; in spite of that I do need eye glasses to read even what I am typing on my computer monitor right now; however, I can see clearly for more than a mile in distance.

        And this crap you are talking about that DMV is not Federal, tell me if the Federal Government has nothing to do with it; explain to me how come I got a citation in the State of Missouri, I left California, drove more than two thousand miles one way to get there, went into court, pleaded not guilty, in the end the court found me guilty, I paid the fine the same day in court in Missouri, turn around and drove the more than two thousand miles back to Los Angeles; by the time it came around to renew my insurance, I found out my prium was increased.

        When I inquired from the insurance company the reason for the increase, I was informed that it was due to a moving violation citation I obtained in the State of Missouri, which is record on my DMV Record in Sacramento California.

        Explain that to me. If you believe that I am just pulling things out of the air, the next time you pay your car registration fee, and that’s if you have one if you have one; read your payment receipt, it breaks down to you how the amount you pay is dispersed, perhaps you may see from the amount you remit how much is going to the Federal Government to be used on the Freeway’s and Highways,

        Guy, I am a bloody hard nut to crack, unless you know for a fact what you are talking about, do not challenge me because I will draw circles around you and make you look small!

        If you are privy to some information that I am lack, put it on DNO I am open to learn, whatever!

        Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

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  20. Engineer
    March 13, 2014

    I think this is a good thing. I think everyone should have their eyes tested before getting their drivers license as is done here in the US; there are several young people that have vision problems.

  21. Jaime Lewis
    March 13, 2014

    I totally agree with Dr. Ricketts on the following points: all older drivers should have their eyes tested, in fact all drivers should be tested at least every 5 years when their renew their drivers’ licenses. That way if there is a problem with their eyesight it will be captured early.
    Next, medication should be available at low to no cost, particularly for the elderly. This can be part of a medical program for non-communicable diseases, or part of the Red Clinic money could be given to village health centers. Parliamentarians should have a day in their constituencies to work with the Village Council or Health Center to take care of these issues. People should not have to go Roseau to take care of these simple matters.

    • Simply the Truth
      March 13, 2014

      For older drivers, especially at the age she has stated, it should be annually. I would think even between the age of 50 to 60 and thereon, they should have their eyes tested annually.

  22. March 13, 2014

    I agree with the good doctor we all have to take better care of our I have to go for testing twice a year I encourage everyone to have their eyes tested.

  23. Jahknow
    March 13, 2014

    Active ingredients in Cannabis is proven to reduce the pressure to the eye. It is most effective taken as drops formulated in from Cannabis http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1772142/ …just saying……. :

    • JoJo
      March 14, 2014

      Brother, canabis also slows down your reaction time so driving under the influence of weed can cause accidents and is an offense in many countries. Be careful

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