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Driving and your eyesight: staying safe on the road

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Drivers medical, Features

If you drive, it goes without saying that you know you need your eyes on the road at all times. What you might not know is that DVLA has minimum eyesight standards that all drivers need to demonstrate so they can be allowed to drive.

So how do we decide on the vision standards for driving? DVLA’s Vision Panel Secretary Dr Gareth Rees tells us more about his role and these standards.

Dr Gareth Rees sitting in the office in front of a computer

I’ve been a doctor for 41 years and have been DVLA’s Vision Panel Secretary for 10 years. My main role is to liaise between DVLA and the Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Visual Disorders. The panel meets every 6 months and is made up of eyesight specialists, who provide DVLA with expert advice on how to apply and interpret the law when assessing fitness to drive.

Think your eyesight’s getting worse? Act now

We all have busy lives, and sometimes we might overlook the signs that our eyes are not as good as they were. You might be finding it harder to judge distances, you might be struggling to read the newspapers, or it’s getting more difficult for you to drive at night. These are just a few signs that your eyesight may be deteriorating.

In line with advice from optometrists, our advice is that you should get your eyes tested at least every 2 years. But if you recognise any of the signs above, don’t wait – go and get checked out straight away with your optician or doctor. If they advise you to tell DVLA about your eyesight, you can do this online or by writing to us.

If you don’t meet the eyesight standards, stop driving immediately and tell DVLA.

After you tell us about your condition

Don’t worry – usually, most people who tell us they’ve got a medical condition are still allowed to drive.

If you have a ‘progressive’ (worsening) condition but can still meet the eyesight standards for driving, you may get a short-term licence rather than a full-term one. This type of licence lasts for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years and when it’s due for renewal, we let you know.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. So if you’re in doubt, get it checked out.

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  1. Comment by John Boyce posted on

    Why is the correct use of corrective glasses not enough to pass all eyesight standards
    I understand there have been few if any fatal accidents in eu caused by glasses falling off the drivers face
    Yet corrective glasses and I now understand corrective eye surgery is not acceptable

    • Replies to John Boyce>

      Comment by Dr Gareth Rees posted on

      Hello John,

      Corrective lenses (spectacles or contact lenses) remedy refractive error, and may allow the visual acuity standards for driving to be achieved. Refractive eye surgery may also be employed for this purpose, and this would be acceptable providing the vision standards for driving are attained.

  2. Comment by Colin Jones posted on

    very good advice but I think some people will nervous to go and find out or getting checked

  3. Comment by Ian posted on

    Renewal of driving licence after 70years of age eyesight test should be compulsory,no certificate for eyesight,no driving licence.

    • Replies to Ian>

      Comment by Duncan Heenan posted on

      If eyesight tests are important for over 70's surely they are important for anyone who drives? It is condition, not age which is important, and you can only judge condition of you are tested, so perhaps we should introduce compulsory regular (annual?) tests for all licence holders.

    • Replies to Ian>

      Comment by Laurence posted on

      In agreement with your comment
      Appox 1 in 6 drivers around rural areas go unchecked ( independent survey )

    • Replies to Ian>

      Comment by Roger posted on

      Why 70 anyone who drives needs to have an eye test ther are people who drive and have diabetes which can affect there eyesight age don’t come into it. If you drive then you need an eye test it’s that simple,

    • Replies to Ian>

      Comment by Dr Gareth Rees posted on

      Hello Ian,

      Drivers renewing a licence at the age of 70 must sign a declaration that they can meet the eyesight standards. They should confirm before signing this that they are able to achieve the legal standards.

  4. Comment by Sue posted on

    Can u drive with the loss of sight in one eye as I know someone who can only see in one eye his lost his LGV license so why can he keep his car license yet he can’t drive properly at night

  5. Comment by Alan Haggerty posted on

    Very good advice and so important for every driver who feels the need to
    have a eye test should do ASAP.

    Thank you

  6. Comment by Robin Gunthorpe posted on

    Very important note from you.
    i am already programmed in for an eye test in Feb 2018 with Vision Express.
    this is a 2 year routine which I have followed for a number of years.
    Yes we see enough 'suspect' drivers amongst our congregation at Church each weekend.!!!!

    So keep up the campaign.
    The challenge for you is to find those who dont want to be 'found'.
    I am of the opinion that EVERYONE needs retesting , incl. eyesight every 10 years, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

    R G>

  7. Comment by Bevan Holden posted on

    Totally agree, Alan.

    But just as important is the need to accurately and quickly interpret what one sees.

    I wonder how many drivers would fail such a test? To the best of my knowledge no such test exists, and it is simply left to individuals to judge for themselves. And we all realise how difficult a decision that must be.

  8. Comment by Coorey posted on

    Why is this not printed and sent to ALL drivers especially those over 60 years

  9. Comment by Trevor Mallalieu posted on

    I had my eyes tested on the 27/5/17 I have glasses for reading only I fine when it comes to driving cars or M/Bikes

  10. Comment by Colin Overall posted on

    Good advice but what about your people. It's all very well to concentrate on the older population but if one looks at the accident stats it's often not elderly who we need to assess. Since there is only so much time and energy we can put into driving safety so make sure we are covering all the issues which go towards awareness of driving ability

  11. Comment by David Williams posted on

    I voluntarily advised DVLA that I had suffered from a stroke and subsequently surrendered my licence. My doctor had more confirmed I am ok to drive once again but I have to fill in a load of forms to get my licence back. Why can't this be simplified as after all my licence was not cancelled, merely suspended.

  12. Comment by David Williams posted on

    I meant to say'my doctor has now confirmed

  13. Comment by Barry Penson posted on

    I used to go every 2years. Now I've turned 70 I'm sent for every 12months.
    Lets be honest you probably dont realise your eye sight is getting worse.
    Especially if its gradual.

  14. Comment by RAYMOND ONGLEY posted on

    Your advice on eye test is very good. I learn more from these E-mails from the DVLA than pamphlets.

  15. Comment by Ray Noonan posted on

    Followed this advice myself - and relieved to find that, although my eyesight is not as good as in my youth, it is still well above the minimum needed to drive safely. Tested annually now, free of charge: such a comfort to know problems will be picked up before I become a danger to myself and everyone else.

  16. Comment by Jon Booth posted on

    These checks should be done regularly for the elderly.

    • Replies to Jon Booth>

      Comment by Hazel posted on

      It’s not just the elderly who need this. It should be everyone who drives

  17. Comment by posted on

    If in any doubt? leave out! take bus or train, walk or taxi; don't kill a kiddie...

  18. Comment by Royston John Skipp posted on

    I think ALL drivers should take the eyesight test. Since treatment for glaucome my eyesight is better than it has been for years even before 70. Sadly still below driving standard. So how far below standard was I before 70. Making only over 70s take the test is a form of age discrimination and is ignoring the majority of the drivers and potential hazards on our roads. Having been driving since I was 16 it came as a bit of a shock to loose my licence but I have got used to it and I would never forgive myself if I hurt someone by not obeying the rules. Also I was amazed at the amount of money I have saved. Another tip Check with the Tax people and your Bus Pass reference 'Sight impared.'

    • Replies to Royston John Skipp>

      Comment by Dr Gareth Rees posted on

      I think this demonstrates the importance of regular eye tests in detecting certain medical conditions, allowing treatment to be given at an earlier stage than may otherwise be the case.

  19. Comment by J H Spanton posted on

    I agree with remarks about age discrimination, but should maybe lowered to 60 years. Nobody wants to loose their licence but road safety comes first.

  20. Comment by James posted on

    Should be compulsory, just as it is for HGV drivers , every 5 years, full medical, and eyesight test, make or roads more safer ,

    • Replies to James>

      Comment by Royston posted on

      I agree James we all drive a potentially lethal weapon. (Well not me now.)

  21. Comment by Sharonpage posted on

    Its not just age but these days wirh these led lights on cars makes it harder to see especially on unlit roads as these lights dazzle you and are to bright