Saccadic masking

Saccadic Masking: Raising Awareness in Road Safety Week

The roads in Britain are a busy place. Road users are increasing and people are taking different forms of transport such as bikes, motorbikes, mopeds and so on.

As more and more people use our road network, it is vital that we all stay safe as we travel around. During Road Safety Week (21-27 November) Eyesite are helping to raise awareness of the importance of having healthy eyes when using the road.

What is Saccadic Masking?

Saccadic masking affects us all. It is to do with the way that our eyes and brain see things as we turn our heads. When you move your head from side to side, often to look left and right at a junction, our eyes send images to our brain in snapshots. You can think of it like a camera recording video footage in frames. Our brains then link all of these frames (called fixations) together to create one continuous image. However, this is an illusion because between the images there are blind spots (called saccades).

How does Saccadic Masking affect my Driving?

When you are approaching a junction, or looking to turn left or right, your eyes do not capture one continuous image. The saccades created between fixations are a danger, and another road user could fall within these blind spots and not be seen. The faster you move your head, the shorter the fixations and the longer the saccades, therefore increasing the risk of not seeing another road user.

How can I prevent Saccadic Masking?

Saccadic Masking can be decreased by, instead of doing one continuous head movement from left to right, pausing for a fraction of a second at three points. These points should be once to the left, once directly ahead, and once to the right to check your long, middle and short distance. If you get into the habit of doing this, your eyes will adjust faster and you can complete the procedure quicker. This then stops the eyes from sending incomplete images to the brain. It is recommended that this is completed at least twice each time you are looking to turn. If every driver carried this out, it could reduce the risk of road accidents by one quarter.

Generally speaking, ensuring that you maintain healthy eyes will assist you when it comes to staying safe on the roads. Find out more information on vision and eye health and book an eye test with us today.