Dominic Cummings explained that he drove 30 miles with his wife and young child to ‘test his eyesight’ after travelling from London to Durham.
Mr Cummings revealed that he had concerns COVID-19 had affected his eyesight, so drove to the town of Barnard Castle as a test run ahead of his journey back to London.
The AOP has emphasised that those concerned about whether their vision is safe for driving should call their optometrist before making a car journey.
Dr Peter Hampson, clinical director for the AOP, said: “We are seeing a rise in the number of people who have a disregard for how important good vision is for driving ability, and it is impacting the safety of the individuals who use our roads.
“Sight loss can often be gradual, and can go unnoticed, so if you’re a driver and have concerns about your vision, while routine sight tests are currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, most practices are open for essential and urgent eye care and will be able to offer advice over the phone,” he said.
It is estimated that 2900 road casualties are caused each year as a result of poor vision.
The AOP runs an annual road safety campaign, Don’t Swerve a Sight Test, designed to encourage all drivers to think about their vision and driving.
In the wake of the senior adviser’s explanation for getting behind the wheel during lockdown, people took to social media to share their views.
Optometrists, vision scientists and eye surgeons flocked to Twitter to point out that Mr Cummings would have been wiser to call an optometrist or attempt to read a clean number plate from a distance of 20 metres.
“If you suspect deterioration of sight, please don't drive to test how good it is,” a post from St Paul’s Eye Unit emphasised.