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Your Eyes Behind the Wheel: What You See When You Drive



Poor vision: Do drivers always see what is happening on the road?

Los Angeles (The Conversation) — A recent tragic pile-up on a major highway near Montreal has spurred the Québec government into action — to find the best ways to improve roads and prevent such disasters from happening again.

However, this investigation into the crashes on Highway 440 which left four people dead did not mention the main tool for safe driving — vision.

The Cochrane Institute published an analysis in 2014 indicating that vision is the most important source of information on which to assess driving. Poor vision of drivers is one of the causes of many accidents.

The potential causes of vision impairment are well known: cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and corneal scars, to name a few. In addition, there are binocular vision problems (visual coordination) that can lead to unstable, double vision, lack of third dimensional perception and delayed reaction to an unexpected event, such as a child appearing in front of the car.

Finally, refractive errors are also very present. Uncorrected hyperopia (farsightedness) can lead to drowsiness while driving. A myopic and/or astigmatic person who does not wear his glasses while driving — it often happens, believe it or not — does not see well into the distance, at least not to a safe distance allowing him to anticipate incidents.

Young people also affected

Although the incidence of visual pathologies and problems increases with age, some of them also impact younger drivers. More than 200,000 Québecers are affected by a combination of all types of eye problems. That suggests that each time you venture onto the road, you are likely to encounter a driver who is affected by an eye or visual impairment that puts his or her driving at risk.

In addition to visual acuity, other elements of visual function contribute to safe driving. For example, the visual function includes an intrinsic element of perception. That allows you to grasp a scene that takes place in front of your eyes with the best possible clarity, your eye movements allowing you to appreciate the dynamics of the scene.

The study of visual function — and not just visual acuity — is therefore essential to reducing the number of accidents.

Mosty eye problems or abnormalities of oculo-visual function are asymptomatic and are only detected during a complete examination by an optometrist. This is particularly the case with diabetic retinopathy or ocular lesions, already present in 25 per cent of patients at the time of diagnosis.

Lax regulations

While science confirms the importance of vision to safe driving, regulatory agencies treat this element negligently. They only require often inappropriate or late checks on the visual condition of drivers.

Although science confirms the importance of vision for safe driving, regulatory agencies are often lax about this element. Shutterstock

For example, the screening test conducted in the service centres of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (the Québec auto insurance board) when a temporary permit is issued is very brief and neglects fundamental aspects of eye health. The SAAQ requires more comprehensive tests much later for the majority of drivers.

In the case of private vehicles (classes 5 and 6), the examination is required at age 75 and then from age 80, every two years. For commercial vehicles (classes 1 to 4), if driving involves a presence in the United States, an examination is required every five years until age 45, then every three years from age 45 to 65. However, if the driver lives in the rest of Canada, his or her examination is generally only required at age 45, then every five years from age 55 to 65 and every two years thereafter.

The provinces, which follow National Safety Code standards and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators Medical Standards for Drivers, also add other conditions in certain circumstances as well. For example, Ontario and Alberta require vision testing when a driver requests a change in the classification of their licence. Ontario also requires vision testing when a licence has been expired for more than a year or when an optometrist advises of any issues with a driver’s vision.

There is no reason for such varying standards. The risk is the same everywhere. Although periodic inspection of drivers from the age of 45 is happening, it would seem more important to carry out a full assessment of everyone when they apply for a licence.

Recommendations left unheeded

Lack of adequate regulation prompted the Ordre des Optométristes du Québec (Quebec Order of Optometrists) to create specific recommendations during the provincial transportation ministry’s consultation in 2017.

The Order proposed that the statutory examination for Class 5 and 6 drivers be scheduled for at least 70 years of age, and possibly even 65 years. It also suggested that statutory examination for commercial drivers (Class 1 to 4) be applied in the same way, whether or not the driver drives in the United States. The examination of these drivers should include a complete eye and visual examination.

The Order of Optometrists recommends that the statutory audit examination be moved to age 65, instead of age 75 as is currently the case. Shutterstock

The Order also proposed that assessment tests conducted at the time of obtaining a driver’s licence should not be limited but should cover the detection of abnormalities in refraction, visual field, binocular vision and screening for eye diseases that may influence driving.

These recommendations, which have not yet been adopted by the authorities, are scientifically justified. They are also full of common sense, insofar as we must be concerned about the safety of road users and in order to improve the driving record in Quebec.

It’s time to act

By recognizing vision as a key element of safe driving, policy makers and public agencies would make a significant contribution to improving road conditions across the country.

Drivers themselves must be proactive by consulting their eye-care professional on a regular basis. They must comply with their recommendations. They must also adequately treat any ocular or visual condition that could lead to sight loss or dysfunction of visual perception.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family



LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day



The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions



Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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