Driving and your eyesight: staying safe on the road
If you drive, it goes without saying that you know you need your eyes on the road at all times. What you might not know is that DVLA has minimum eyesight standards that all drivers need to demonstrate so they can be allowed to drive.
So how do we decide on the vision standards for driving? DVLA’s Vision Panel Secretary Dr Gareth Rees tells us more about his role and these standards.
I’ve been a doctor for 41 years and have been DVLA’s Vision Panel Secretary for 10 years. My main role is to liaise between DVLA and the Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Visual Disorders. The panel meets every 6 months and is made up of eyesight specialists, who provide DVLA with expert advice on how to apply and interpret the law when assessing fitness to drive.
Think your eyesight’s getting worse? Act now
We all have busy lives, and sometimes we might overlook the signs that our eyes are not as good as they were. You might be finding it harder to judge distances, you might be struggling to read the newspapers, or it’s getting more difficult for you to drive at night. These are just a few signs that your eyesight may be deteriorating.
In line with advice from optometrists, our advice is that you should get your eyes tested at least every 2 years. But if you recognise any of the signs above, don’t wait – go and get checked out straight away with your optician or doctor. If they advise you to tell DVLA about your eyesight, you can do this online or by writing to us.
If you don’t meet the eyesight standards, stop driving immediately and tell DVLA.
After you tell us about your condition
Don’t worry – usually, most people who tell us they’ve got a medical condition are still allowed to drive.
If you have a ‘progressive’ (worsening) condition but can still meet the eyesight standards for driving, you may get a short-term licence rather than a full-term one. This type of licence lasts for 1, 2, 3 or 5 years and when it’s due for renewal, we let you know.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. So if you’re in doubt, get it checked out.