Ever wanted to shoot off a quick text, or check an incoming text while driving? I have, and I am not alone. The results could be deadly. Open your eyes and don’t let technology destroy your life.
As an OD who makes ocular surface disease an emphasis in my practice, I recognize the significance of blinking to clear vision and healthy eyes. As a road cyclist, I recognize the growing trend of distracted drivers. I frequently notice drivers texting when they pass. Just this morning, on a 40 mile ride, I experienced two close calls with cars. In one instance, I heard a car behind me that sounded close. It came within about 2 feet as it passed me by, continuing to swerve as it drove down the road.
A new study released by the Public Health Reports claims that pedestrian deaths caused by distracted driving have increased by over 50% in a five year period. The amount of cyclists killed by distracted driving accidents has amplified by 30% over the past five years.
Note that pedestrians who text while walking also pose a hazard to other people, as they have an ‘inattentional blindness’ caused by decreased awareness of their surroundings. Their eyes are diverted from their path and the texting distraction makes it more likely that they will walk into someone else or something and cause damage.
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
Blink rates are significantly reduced when staring at devices, such as phones. This in turn results in eyes that don’t look, feel, or see their best. The prevalence of dry eye disease continues to grow, and the eye care community is beginning to understand that decreased blinking is behind much of it.
So put down your phone when you drive, ride a bike or when you’re crossing the street. Not only will you be reducing the risk of being involved in a fatal accident, your eyes will feel better as well.
Scott E. Schachter, O.D.
Vision Source Administrator