Why Drivers Should Carry Spare Contacts
People are more active nowadays than ever before and for contact lens wearers this can mean taking extra precautions when you are out and about. Contacts don’t generally fall out of your eyes on their own, but vigorous activity or activities involving water can increase your risk of losing a lens. (For more information about water sports and contacts click here. No matter where you go or what you’re doing, it’s always a good idea to bring a spare pair of contacts, especially for the drive home.
Although each state has their own requirements, on average, drivers with 20/40 vision or better without correction will receive a license with no restrictions. Anything worse and there may be additional restrictions placed on your license that determine when you can drive or what corrective devices are needed for driving. Any restrictions on your license should be indicated by a letter on the front and an explanation of the restriction on the back. Vision restrictions may include being limited to daytime driving, keeping your speed below 45mph, staying out of rush hour traffic, or usage of vision correcting devices - such as contacts or eyeglasses.
If your license says you must wear corrective lenses for driving, then you have to wear them at all times in the car. Any violation of your requirements will have consequences if you are pulled over. In some states the officer will just issue a ticket with a fine anywhere between about $200 (Texas) to $500 (Florida). In other states, driving without your corrective lenses is considered a misdemeanor and can result in jail time (up to four months in Arizona). Buying an extra pair of contact lenses to keep in the car is significantly less expensive than getting caught without them.
Not only is it illegal to drive without your corrective lenses if they are required, but it’s also very dangerous! There is an average reaction time of 1.5 seconds between your brain registering you need to stop and your foot hitting the brake. If you are driving 40mph, your vehicle will travel approximately 80 feet before you begin to slow and then need an additional 80 feet to come to a complete stop (160 feet total). Bring your speed up to 60mph and you now need over 300 feet to come to a complete stop safely.
When we compare these calculations to our vision, it becomes very evident why it’s so important to wear your corrective lenses while driving. If your vision is 20/50, that means that what other people see clearly from 50 feet away is only clear to you at 20 feet away, giving you less than half the distance to stop your vehicle. Dr. Wende warns, “driving without your corrective lenses is a major disadvantage and never recommended. Keep an extra pair of contacts in the car at all times. It could mean the difference between getting home safely and getting into an accident.”
There’s no excuse to be unprepared when it comes to your vision. If you know that your activity may dislodge or wash away a contact, make sure you have extras. After all, they’re only a phone call away: 1-844-5LENSES.