Is your vision good enough to drive safely and legally?

Tired driver taking eyeglasses off, bad eyesight

When it comes to the levels of vision needed to drive, many people have concerns and misconceptions regarding what is safe – and legal.

It can be understandable why people are confused as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) rules run to several pages and use some very specific technical terms.

It’s difficult to measure how good your eyesight is to drive because there isn’t a simple test that can be applied to answer the question ‘is my eyesight good enough to drive?’

Even if their eyesight is deteriorating, there is usually a big motivation for people to want to continue to drive. It can be difficult to identify the time when it is no longer safe or legal, particularly when the condition that is affecting one’s sight is slowly progressive (such as cataracts).

Regular eye exams and research on various surgeries can help you continue to drive safely if your eyesight is failing.

The ability to read a conventional (modern) number plate at a distance of 20 metres in good light is one of the examinations that drivers of vehicles (HGV drivers have different tests) must be able to pass.

However, the DVLA go on to say: ‘glare may counter an ability to pass the number plate test of the minimum requirements, even when cataracts allow apparently appropriate acuities.’ Therefore, even if someone passes the basic number plate test, glare impairing their vision may make them unfit to drive.

It is all very difficult to navigate and therefore important to remain on the side of caution. Seek help before driving with unsafe/illegal levels of vision.

There is no ‘only drive the roads you know’ licence offered by the DVLA. All drivers, whether experienced or not, must be able to operate a vehicle on a road. Many people think that their insurance is void if they can’t see clearly enough to drive. Although this is true, it is also illegal.

Most common causes of reduced vision can be effectively treated. Many common causes of impaired vision can be easily treated, and waiting will almost likely not result in a better outcome if surgery is necessary.

In the case of cataract treatment is in the form of a short operation, recovery from which is usually incredibly fast. The best results are achieved with an individualised approach – always ask to meet your surgeon in person before the day of surgery.

A group of committed consultants and surgeons at The Wye Clinic in Hereford offer services that are specifically catered to your needs.

1 thought on “Is your vision good enough to drive safely and legally?”

  1. But it’s all self regulated. My father, now deceased, had cataracts in 1 eye and macular degeneration in the other. He stated to me “his Dr said he was ok to drive “

    As an ADI I was disgusted with him. I couldn’t dissuade him from driving. As he believed it was his right and he was ok.

    I was horrified. Thank goodness he wasn’t in any collision as he drove a Land Rover 110

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