Driving and Vision Guide

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 standard of vision required for driving.

What standard of vision is needed for driving?

To meet the legal minimum eyesight requirement, drivers must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres away (with glasses or contact, if necessary). The number plate must be made after 1st September 2001 and read easily without squinting or screwing your eyes.

Car drivers are expected to have an adequate field of vision, whilst lorry and bus drivers will meet stricter eyesight requirements to measure how good your vision is.

What is the eyesight test for driving?

During your practical driving test, you will be asked to correctly read a number plate on a parked vehicle. If you fail the eyesight test during your driving 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 could be prosecuted.

How to check your vision?

You can check yourself by reading a number plate from 20 metres away or by going for an eye test.

Generally, it is recommended to 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 eyesight on a Snellen chart. This is made up of capital letters in rows, descending in size and used to measure how sharp your vision is.

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, which will tell you if you need to be given a new prescription, referred to an eye specialist or if you have a severe eye condition which should be declared to the DVLA.