Vision – Key Facts for Drivers

16 May 2017
Good eyesight is essential for safe driving and poor vision can impair your driving performance. Every driver is responsible for ensuring that their vision meets the specified minimum requirements. If you notice or suspect any change in your vision, visit your optometrist as soon as possible.

The current vision test for Group 1 (car and motorcycle) drivers in the UK is the ability to read in good light (with the aid of spectacles or contact lenses, if worn) a number plate at:

  • 20m for vehicles displaying the new-style number plate
  • 20.5m for vehicles displaying the old-style number plate

If you are told to wear spectacles or contact lenses for driving you must wear them at all times when driving.
Group 2 (lorry and bus) drivers need to have slightly better vision than car drivers and need a medical assessment of vision to renew their licence. It is a criminal offence to drive with eyesight below the minimum legal standard.

Key Facts for Drivers
  1. You must notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of any medical condition which may affect safe driving, including changes in vision. Eye diseases and conditions that affect vision can occur at any age, although they are more common in people aged over 60. Also, people with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma are at increased risk.
  2. Commonly reported eye sight problems when driving include difficulty seeing road or street signs or driving in twilight or night conditions.
  3. Some eye conditions do not cause symptoms in the early stages. It is therefore important to have regular eye examinations – every two years unless your optometrist tells you otherwise – to detect them early.
  4. Loss of vision in one eye, loss of peripheral vision (visual field) or double vision can severely affect your ability to drive, even though you may pass the number plate test.
  5. All drivers aged 70 years and over must renew their licence every three years and declare that they still meet the medical standards to drive, including the minimum eyesight requirement.
  6. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) estimates that over 30% of sight loss may be avoided if eye conditions and diseases are detected early. A further 50% of sight loss can be easily corrected with spectacles or contact lenses.

a driving chart

Ask us in practice for more information on vision and driving, including the best type of lenses, frames, sunglasses and lens coatings.