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Eyesight and Driving

 It may sound obvious but to drive safely your distance vision needs to be adequate. However, it is surprising how many people would fail an eyesight test if stopped by a police officer.

As we get older we are more likely to need glasses or contact lenses in order to stay safe and legal. Our eyes are also more likely to develop an eye condition such as cataracts.

You should get your eyes checked by a qualified optician at least every two years and more often as you get into older age.

A regular eyesight test, as well as checking your ability to see clearly, can be good for your health because it may pick up medical conditions early.

You can get a free NHS eye test if

you’re aged 60 or over.

If you do get caught driving when you are not able to meet the eyesight standard you could lose your licence within days.

Driving eyesight rules

You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.

You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye.

This doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards.

You could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving.

Standards of vision for driving

You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

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You don’t need to tell DVLA if you have, or have had, cataracts and you still meet the visual standards for driving.

Macular degeneration

If macular degeneration only affects one eye you don’t need to tell DVLA if you’re still able to meet the ‘visual standards for driving’.

You must tell DVLA if macular degeneration affects both your eyes.


You don’t need to tell DVLA if you’re diagnosed with glaucoma in one eye and your other eye has a normal field of vision.

You must tell DVLA if your glaucoma affects one eye and either of the following also apply:

- you have a medical condition in your other eye

- you can’t meet the visual standards for driving

You must tell DVLA if your glaucoma affects both eyes.

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