Driving is one of the most demanding tests of your vision, yet research shows that one in ten people don’t meet the basic sight requirement for driving. Fortunately, in most instances a pair of driving glasses is all that is needed.
So, what are the vision standards for driving? Firstly, you must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres. This is equivalent to a visual acuity of 6/12 - the fifth line down on a typical sight test chart. However, being able to pass the number plate test is just one aspect of seeing to drive safely. There is also a requirement that you have good peripheral or side vision. That means a field of vision of at least 120 degrees on the horizontal, with no blank areas in the most sensitive central area.
Health & eye conditions
Unfortunately, your eyesight doesn’t remain the same as you get older and there are a number of eye conditions that can impact on driving. For example, cataracts and macular degeneration may significantly reduce your visual acuity. Also, cataracts can give increased sensitivity to glare, making it particularly difficult to drive at night or in bright sunshine. Advanced glaucoma can restrict your field of vision, leading to tunnel vision in extreme cases. General health problems, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, can also affect your sight - some cases of stroke, for instance, can damage your field of vision.
There is a lot we can do to help your driving vision. For example an anti-reflection coating applied to your lenses is useful for night driving because it reduces the glare from oncoming headlights. We can also provide you with driving sunglasses made to your individual prescription. Polarised lenses are particularly good because they cut out reflected glare from road surfaces and other cars.
The law requires you to maintain your vision to a minimum standard throughout your driving life. If you have an eye or health condition which affects your sight you have a responsibility to notify the Driver & Vehicle Agency. It’s also worth pointing out that a failure to meet minimum vision standards for driving may affect your insurance cover if you ever have an accident. Clearly, it makes sense for all drivers to have regular eye tests. So, if you have any doubt about your driving vision, book an eye test and we'll help keep you right