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Driving eyesight rules-vision standards for driving
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 17 January 2022
Often, we misjudge how regularly we need to get our eyes checked and underestimate how important it is to make sure our vision is adequate to drive safely. We’ve created a useful guide, answering a variety of questions surrounding the standards of vision required for driving.
What is the legal standard eyesight for driving?
Drivers must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres away (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) to meet the legal minimum eyesight standards. The number plate must be made after 1st September 2001 and read easily without squinting / screwing up your eyes. Car drivers should have an adequate field of vision, while lorry and bus drivers must meet stricter eyesight requirements.
Can you legally drive with one eye?
You may still be able to drive if you only have vision in one eye. As long as you still meet the standards of vision for driving, it is not necessary to inform the DVLA if you have monocular vision.
You should book an appointment with your optician if you're not sure about whether your vision will affect your driving.
What is the eyesight test for driving?
During your practical driving test, the examiner will ask you to read a number plate on a parked vehicle correctly. If you fail the eyesight test, the DVLA will be informed, and your licence will be revoked.
Lorry and bus drivers must have a medical and vision check when they first apply, then every five years from the age of 45 and every year from the age of 60.
Which medical conditions do you need to declare to the DVLA?
If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses, you must wear them every time you drive. You do not need to inform the DVLA if you are short-sighted, long-sighted or colour blind.
Medical conditions you must declare to the DVLA include any problems that affect your eyesight, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. These common conditions cause reduced visual acuity, night blindness, distorted and blurred vision that will negatively impact your driving. See the government site for a full list of eye conditions you must declare.
Please note: If you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving, you may face prosecution.
How to check your vision is adequate for driving?
You can check yourself by reading a number plate from 20 metres away or by going for an eye test.
Generally, you should have your eyes tested every two years and more occasionally if advised by your optometrist. Your optometrist will be able to tell you if you have an adequate field of vision and test your acuity on a Snellen chart. A Snellen chart is made up of capital letters in rows, descending in size and is used to measure how sharp your vision is.
Can you drive with astigmatism?
People with astigmatism struggle to drive at night due to the glare from streetlights and headlights, which can cause blurry vision. However, having astigmatism doesn't mean that you can't drive at night. As long as you wear corrective eyewear for astigmatism, such as toric contact lenses, this should usually correct the problem.
What should I do if I feel my vision is getting worse for driving?
If you feel your vision is getting worse, you should visit your optician and get an eye test as soon as possible. Your optician will tell you if a new prescription is required or refer you to an eye specialist if you have a severe eye condition, which you need to declare to the DVLA.
Quick links:Do I need an eye test?
What to Expect on Your First Eye Test?
What is the difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician