One of the most important aspects of our lives and independence is the ability to drive. Eye problems can affect your ability to drive so this page clarifies the legal standards and the effects of common eye problems on your driving vision.
The legal requirements for driving are to have an adequate level of vision (visual acuity) and sufficient field of vision. The visual acuity standard is to be able to read a standard size number plate (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary) from 20.5 metres (67 feet). There are also standards set for field of vision can be measured using special equipment. These tests might be done at routine optician appointments or in the eye clinic but are especially important with certain eye diseases.
Effects Of Eye Disease On Driving Ability
Patients often fear the prospect of losing their license so much that they do not declare their eye problems to the DVLA. However this is only storing up potential problems because if your visual impairment is discovered after a problem such as an accident, it may invalidate your insurance and you could be liable for prosecution. Any eye disease may affect your ability to drive and may even reduce your vision so it is below the legal standard. The following are the potential effects of common eye problems.
Cataracts may cause reduction in your vision so that you find it harder to read number plates and road signs. Cataracts may also cause glare from headlights. Fortunately if that is the only disease affecting your vision there is a good chance that cataract surgery will return your vision to a level that will allow you to continue to drive.
2. Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration commonly affects both eyes. If you have dry macular degeneration it is important to check with your optician that you are within the legal limit. In some cases an optimum glasses prescription may suffice. With progressive disease you may no longer be eligible. Wet AMD patients are at risk of more rapid vision loss. However with modern anti-VEGF eye injection treatments many patients are able to preserve their driving vision.
3. Diabetic Eye Disease
Central vision is commonly affected by the subset of diabetic eye disease called diabetic maculopathy. Patients with poorly controlled disease may require laser treatment. Different types of laser are required and some may affect your central or peripheral (side) vision. Please check with the doctor treating you the likely effects on your driving vision.
Glaucoma causes progressive damage to the peripheral (side) vision. Affected patients may not notice the problems with their visual field. It is important to therefore attend regularly for checks which include checks of the pressure in the eye and visual fields.