Vision tests paused for drivers over the age of 80
KITCHENER -- The pandemic has paused vision and cognitive tests for drivers over the age of 80 looking to renew their licence.
In Ontario, drivers over 80 years old need to apply to renew their licence every two years and get a vision test.
However, the Ministry of Transportation has "temporarily paused senior group education sessions and waived vision testing." All other in-car exams have also been suspended.
“As Ontario continues to work to protect seniors as a vulnerable population throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry will ensure that the resumption of programs prioritizes the health and safety of its participants," the ministry said.
As of Feb, 10, more than 40,000 drivers have renewed their licences under these new requirements. Renewals are done online during the pandemic. However, at least one senior advocacy group said some people in that age group aren't comfortable using computers or don't have access to one.
"This may call out people who would normally pass," said Elizabeth Macnab, executive director of the Ontario Society of Senior Citizens. "It's now forcing them to stop driving, not because they are unable to drive or don't have the skill to drive or cognitive issues, but it's the lack of technology."
Professionals are encouraging seniors to take advantage of OHIP coverage.
"I don't think there's anything that changes dramatically when you're age 80, but we know the main eye diseases that affect your vision are age-related," ophthalmologist Dr. Chryssa McAlister said. "Once you turn 65, you get a yearly eye exam covered by OHIP with your optometrist."
"There are changes that can happen to the eye that can be silent and a person can not be aware of," optometrist Dr. Shamroze Khan said. "The vision test that is involved in a licence renewal is a vision screening. It's not an eye exam per se that somebody would obtain when they see their optometrist or ophthalmologist, so it's not at that same level of care."