Before you start to learn to drive or ride, make sure you meet the eyesight requirements. If you need glasses or corrective lenses to meet the requirements, you must wear them at all times while driving or riding.
Driving is a privilege, not a right, and maintaining good vision is essential for safe driving. Many states have minimum vision requirements that must meet before a driver's license can be issued or renewed to ensure that all drivers have adequate vision.
Eyesight deterioration can be slow, which is why it's so important to have your eyes tested at least every two years or immediately if you notice a problem.
If you have any problems with your eyes other than being long, short-sighted, or color-blind, you must inform the DVLA.
There are three basic legal eyesight standard for driving:
These standards can meet with or without glasses or contact lenses, but glasses must have a corrective power of no more than (+) 8 dioptres; contact lenses have no such limitation. If you need glasses or contact lenses to meet the minimum vision requirements, you must wear them while driving.
Visual acuity is measured using the Snellen scale. A Snellen test usually involves reading rows of letters on a chart, where the letters get smaller the further down the chart you read. On the Snellen scale, normal visual acuity is called 6/6, which means you can correctly read the bottom or second bottom line of the chart.
Having a visual acuity of 6/12 on the Snellen scale, which is the minimum legal requirement for driving, means you need to be 6 meters away from an object to see what a person with good eyesight can see from 12 meters away.
Your field of vision is the area you can see at any one time without moving your eyes. This is measured through a visual field test.
A standard visual field for your left eye is 100° from the center of your vision to your left side, 60° from the center to your right (i.e., towards your nose), 70° from the center downward, and 60° from the center upward. The same is true for your right eye, but the visual field is 100° from the center of your vision to your right side and 60° from the center to your left (i.e., towards your nose).
The legally required minimum field of vision for driving in the UK is 120° horizontally.
The most common eye conditions that can prevent you from being able to drive legally in the UK are:
If you are long, short-sighted, or color-blind, you do not need to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). However, if you are long or short-sighted and need corrective glasses or contact lenses to meet minimum vision requirements, you must do so whenever you drive.
If you have any other eye conditions that affect both of your eyes or your remaining eye, if you only have one eye, you need to inform the DVLA. This may include having cataracts.
If you have cataracts in one or both eyes, driving can present some challenges, such as difficulty while driving at night, in the rain, in high traffic, or while parallel parking. However, whether or not you need to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) depends on the extent of your cataracts and if you meet the minimum vision requirements for driving.
If you only have a cataract in one eye and your vision still meets the minimum requirements, you do not need to inform the DVLA and can continue to drive as usual. On the other hand, if you have cataracts in both eyes or your vision does not meet the legal requirements, you must notify the DVLA.
If cataracts prevent you from meeting the legal driving requirements, cataract removal surgery may be an option. This procedure is highly successful and typically quick and straightforward. The surgery aims to restore your vision to meet the minimum vision requirements for driving.
After you have recovered from cataract surgery, you should schedule a visit with an ophthalmologist to ensure your eyesight is stable and meets the legal requirements for driving. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating eye conditions.
Regular eye exams are important for maintaining good vision and ensuring that any vision problems are caught and treated early.
Adults are generally recommended to get their eyes tested at least every two years, regardless of whether or not they are drivers. However, if you have certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, or other health conditions that may affect your eyesight, such as diabetes, your ophthalmologist may recommend more frequent eye exams.
For drivers, regular eye exams are essential. If you are a driver aged 70 or over, you are legally required to renew your driver's license every three years, and it is strongly advised to have an eye test before doing so for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
If you notice any symptoms such as a dark spot in your vision, a noticeable decrease in your eye or blurry vision, difficulty reading road signs or spotting pedestrians, or glare or halos when looking at oncoming headlights or streetlights. In that case, it's essential to schedule an eye exam as soon as possible with an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating eye conditions.
Eric Johnson is a Kerala-based eye wear expert and entrepreneur. He is one of the directors of Ejones Opticals, a company dedicated to providing the highest quality eye wear products at the most affordable prices. Eric has been in the eye wear business for over 10 years, and has a deep understanding of the industry. He is passionate about helping people look and feel their best through the right eye wear. Eric is committed to using his expertise to create stylish and functional eye wear that is tailored to each individual's needs.