Eye tests of the 1,440 drivers of MSRTC Pune division revealed that 98 per cent had weak eyesight and vision problems. The eye check-up camp, conducted by a private NGO Shree Rama Seva Sadan Trust, was held across 12 depots in the Pune division, from February 20 to March 4.

For vision 20/20: A team of doctors conducts the eye checkup for drivers at an MSRTC depot.

Many of the total 2,600 MSRTC drivers and around the same number of conductors were away on work and didn’t attemd the camp.

“We sent a team of five for the external eye checkup and we came to know that 98 per cent of the drivers are facing vision problems that lead to various eye problems after the age of 40. Most of them do not know how to take care of eyes and many don’t know they have a number,” said optometrist Pravin Rathod, who headed the team.

“A common disease found in most drivers is pterygium: it is a transparent layer on the eye which can be removed with a small surgery. Colour vision tests were also done for all drivers. The reason for the disturbance in vision of the drivers is the heavy work load and continuous driving,” said Rathod.

Drivers were also instructed about various precautionary measures, such as a five-minute break every two hours while driving, wearing day and night glasses, using eye drops to keep the eyes clean.

A driver from Swargate depot told mid-day, “Many times we are given back-to-back duties on long routes and the restrooms at the depots are in a poor condition, so we cannot rest at the stands. Mere eye checkups won’t help. The administration should also provide advanced treatments and facilities for drivers to improve their health.”

MSRTC Pune division controller Shailesh Chavhan said, “It is not the case that we do not care about our employees. Eye checkups and treatment for drivers is a top priority as it is directly connected to the safety of passengers. We have regular testing camps at government hospitals, and with private organisations. A driver has 8 hours of duty and close watch is kept on duty timings and shifts so they are not stressed out.”

Number of MSRTC depots in Pune division

Number of MSRTC drivers in Pune division