Eye tests essential, truckie says

Veteran truck driver says anyone driving for a living should get regular eye checks

Eye tests essential, truckie says
Eye tests essential, truckie says
October 13, 2010

A veteran truck driver who suffered loss of sight from diabetes says professional drivers should have their eyes checked regularly.

Gary Fehlberg is urging drivers to become more proactive in addressing sight problems after he did not take action as soon as his vision began to blur.

The 55-year-old linehaul driver thought it was a symptom of age, but it gradually got worse to the point where he could not read street directories.

When he eventually visited the optometrist, Fehlberg was diagnosed diabetic retinopathy, which damages blood vessels in the retina and is one of the world’s leading causes of vision loss in people aged 20 to 65 years.

He was also diagnosed with macular oedema, which can cause permanent damage to a person’s central vision.

"I think anyone who drives for a living should have their eyes looked at regularly. It’s like a maintenance program to help you stay on the road. You wouldn’t let a problem with your truck get out of control – that just wastes time and money," Fehlberg says.

"Our eyes are our living and our safety. Getting your eyes tested to find out if you have a problem before you have sight loss is just smart. It doesn’t cost anything and its going to save you in the long run."

Current treatments for diabetic retinopathy can prevent further vision loss but cannot restore lost sight.

Fehlberg received eye injections as part of a study being conducted by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) to treat eye loss without laser treatment.

After three years in the study he is positive about his future prospects.

"My eyesight doesn’t bother me greatly as it is now but I thought I’d better go and get something done about it before it did deteriorate and get beyond repair. The trial looks promising," Fehlberg says.

The driver says he now pays more attention to his eyes and vision.

"I’m very mindful now. I’m always tallying up how my sight’s going – whether it’s deteriorating or not; what I can see and what I can’t see with each eye; how my reading’s going," he says.

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