There are strict rules regarding driving and eyesight. If you fail to meet them, the Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency (DVLA) considers you to be an unsafe driver and can ask you to give back your driving license. This article offers some advice on the rules for eyesight and driving.
Is My Eyesight Good Enough?
The current UK rules regarding eyesight and driving state focus on the number plate test. This involves being able to read a car number plate from 20.5m (67 feet) away in good daylight . For the new-style number plates, this distance is 20m.
Decreased Sight in One Eye
If you have a condition that affects your vision in one eye only, you don't necessarily need to inform the DVLA of this, as long as your vehicle is a car. This also applies to those who only have sight in one eye, as long as you have adequate sight in your other eye. In both cases, you still need to be able to pass the number plate test.
Informing the DVLA of Vision Problems
If you're a learner driver, you will have to take an eyesight test as part of your practical test. You will usually be given three opportunities to do this. If you fail this, your examiner will note this on their driving test report form, and you will fail the driving test on the spot. You also won't be granted a driving license.
If you currently hold a UK driving license, you are required to fill in a medical questionnaire giving more information on your condition. Once this has been sent to the DVLA, they will decide whether it is safe for you to continue driving. If they decide that it isn't, they will revoke your license. For most cases, this will take less than a month.
Glasses and Contact Lenses
If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses to pass the number plate test (see above), you are obliged to wear these whenever you drive, so that you can be sure of seeing number plates from the required distance.
Experts recommend that you have eye tests every one to two years to monitor your eyesight. This is particularly important if you drive. Your optician should be able to advise you on your suitability for driving if your eye test throws up anything of concern.
Once you have passed your driving test, there are no official checks on your eyesight for driving purposes until you are seventy. Because of this, many people continue to drive for many years when their eyesight isn't quite good enough, as they may not realise that this is the case. It's worth carrying out a number plate test on a regular basis to make sure. Eyesight can start deteriorating from the age of thirty, so you don't need to be old to have less than adequate vision for driving. If you notice that you no longer meet the required rules for driving, you should inform the DVLA of this.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated June 2016.