Dr May Wu talks to RTHK’s Wendy Wong

Optometrists on Wednesday urged the Hong Kong government to conduct stricter eye tests for elderly drivers and make it mandatory from the age of 65.

Currently, only those over the age of 70 are required to get a medical certificate every three years to prove they can see a car number plate from 23 metres away in the sunlight.

But the president of the Eye Foundation, Dr May Wu, said that same road conditions cannot be replicated when elderly people undergo their medical checkup with an optometrist.

The association said its study found that drivers aged over 60 were involved in 544 minibus accidents last year while the number of accidents involving those below that age was 370. It also said there are more than 70,000 minibus drivers aged above 60, according to last year’s data.

Wu said currently there are also no tests done for periphery vision and colour recognition, as well as how the drivers respond to glare while driving at night. These are important things to assess driving ability, she said.

She said more should be done to ensure road safety and tougher tests are needed, from the age of 65.

“Starting from age 65, eye health can change quite fast due to cataracts, retinal problems or glaucoma … different types of visual problems can come after 65,” she said.

Dr Wu told RTHK’s Wendy Wong that extra tests could also be carried out indoors for a better assessment of a person’s visual ability.