Fit for the Road

Updated Aug 12, 2014

The Eyes Have It

The eyes of a truck driver are just as important as those of a pilot or surgeon in their respective fields, according to ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Golden.

“Truckers spend a lot of time on the road, and therefore are using their eyes more than the average individual,” Golden, of Golden Eye Surgeons and Consultants, says.

The rub is that the amount of time spent on the road — requiring good eyesight — is actually bad for the eyes. Problems like glare, eye fatigue and eye strain are part of a trucker’s everyday life and can even lead to bigger problems, like glaucoma.

Interestingly, Golden, who accepts vision referrals for Department of Transportation physical examinations, says there is a simple way to combat many of these common eye issues: eye drops.

“If you’re going to give one overall suggestion for truckers to make their eyes more comfortable, that would be the use of a lubricating eye drop,” Golden says. “Anything that includes tears, moisture or lubricating in the name is pretty much the same. Using those often will keep the eyes moist and well lubricated, [causing] less eye strain and less glare at night.”

Golden says drivers can also reduce their risk of degenerative eye conditions by cutting back or quitting smoking.

“As far as general eye health goes, the single biggest risk factor for eye problems is smoking,” he says. “Smoking increases the risk for dry eyes, for cataracts and macular degeneration … the leading cause for blindness.”

Fast fact: The FMCSA requires drivers to have at least 20/40 vision or better, either corrected or uncorrected, and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye. Drivers must also be able to recognize standard colors on traffic signals and devices.

Many say the eyes are the window to the soul, but Golden maintains that they are the window to the rest of the body and can provide hints that someone is smoking too much or has high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries or high cholesterol. Thus he recommends regular eye checkups because not only are they a good way to maintain your CDL, they can also be a way of “finding out what’s going on with the rest of their body.”

Fast fact: Drivers failing to meet FMCSA vision requirements may apply for a waiver by filling out the proper paperwork and providing information such as safe driving records and documented approval from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. For more information visit

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As for corrective surgeries, Golden says truckers really must be “not just good candidates, but perfect candidates” for the procedure, because people who are already prone to dry eyes may not be a good candidate for it. He says another type of surgery, monovision surgery, is not recommended for truck drivers because it causes a loss of depth ­perception.

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