Driving eyesight rules: is your vision good enough to drive?

14 October 2021

Author: Melody Solaimaninajad

Driving eyesight rules

Is your vision safe enough for the road?


Having good eyesight is an essential part of road safety, and it’s also a legal requirement to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’ set out by DVLA. Despite this, research by National Eye Health Week estimates that there are nine million drivers in Britain with vision that does not meet the legal standards for driving. Due to the sheer number of people on the roads with poor vision, accidents involving a driver with bad eyesight cause around 3,000 casualties and cost the UK £33 million per year.


Looking at the figures above, it’s clear to see (no pun intended) that looking after your vision as a driver is crucial. If you do not make sure that you meet the legal standards of vision for driving before you get onto the road, not only could you be prosecuted and lose your licence, but you could potentially endanger and harm yourself and others around you.


What are the standards of vision for driving?


To meet the legal eyesight requirements for driving, there is a minimum standard of visual acuity you must have to be safe on the roads. If you can only meet this standard while wearing glasses or contact lenses, then you must wear them every time you drive to prevent any dangerous accidents from happening while on the road. You must also tell DVLA about any eyesight problems that affect either one or both of your eyes.


The minimum standard of eyesight you must reach for driving means that you need to be able to read (with or without corrective lenses) a car number plate made after 1st September 2001 from 20 metres.  You also need to have a visual acuity of at least 6/12 (20/40) on the Snellen scale and have an adequate field of vision.


The driving eyesight test


If you take a practical driving test, there is a small eyesight test involved at the beginning of the driving test to check your vision. At the beginning of your driving test, your examiner will ask you to read the number plate of a car parked in front of you. The number plate will be 20 metres (roughly 5 car lengths) away from you, and you must be able to read the number plate clearly – regardless of whether you’re wearing corrective lenses or not. If you are unable to read the plate, then unfortunately you will fail your test immediately and your provisional licence will be revoked.


If you decide to apply for your licence again, the DVLA will ask you to take an eyesight test carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which is done at the driving test centre. If you pass this test, you must still be able to pass the number plate reading test when you take your next driving test.


Can you still drive with monocular vision?


Fortunately, you may still be able to drive if you only have sight in one eye (monocular vision). As long as you can still meet the standards of vision for driving, it’s not necessary to inform DVLA about your sight loss in one eye. However, you might have to inform them about any health conditions you may have in your sighted eye. You could potentially be fined up to £1,000 if you do not inform them about any eye conditions that affect your driving, and you may be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result… not ideal!


Your ability to judge distances with accuracy may be affected and you may be less aware of objects on the side that has lost vision. However, making better use of your wing mirrors will help to combat this. Blind spots that are caused by the design of your car will also be larger for you if you have monocular vision. Of course, if you have any doubt about whether you can meet the vision requirements for driving, please consult your optician who will be able to advise you further on whether or not you are fit to drive. Road safety is incredibly important, after all, and should not be compromised due to your vision.



At Ultralase, over 99% of our patients achieve driving standard vision after LASIK and LASEK laser eye surgery. Getting treatment with us can significantly make your life easier as a driver, as your improved vision will ensure you are driving safely on the road. To find out how Ultralase can give you freedom on the road, book a free consultation with us today!

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