Is your eyesight fit for driving?

By: Georgina Bradford

How good is your eyesight? Motoring safety organisation, GEM, are encouraging drivers of all ages to ensure their vision meets the minimum required standard for driving. 

Having regular eye check-ups can help reduce the 3,000 fatal and serious injury collisions caused by drivers with poor eyesight.  

According to GEM Chief Executive Neil Worth, "Covid restrictions have put many people off booking an eye test, but that is no longer a valid excuse."

To help keep our roads safe, Worth suggest that drivers have a proper eye examination every two years, to allow an optician to identify any issues and provide the correct prescription.

Driving is not just about central clarity of vision. Common ageing changes like cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) can lead to a reduction in peripheral vision, an obvious problem when it comes to spatial awareness on the road.

Vision commonly deteriorates with age and can be affected by common conditions including diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration. Many conditions can be treated or further deterioration delayed, so getting an early detection of a problem is key. Examinations can also play a key role in the early diagnosis of many other costly medical conditions, irrespective of driving.

 

What is the legal driving requirement for eyesight?

If you are caught driving behind the wheel without the high enough level of vision, you are at risk of being prosecuted. 

To meet the driving eyesight law requirements, you must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres. A procedure that is currently only undertaken when someone qualifies for their full licence.

Eyesight deterioration tends to happen slowly, making it difficult to detect a difference in vision. The slow pace of degenration only increases the importance of getting a test every two years, or sooner if you start to notice a problem.

If you have any problems with your eyes, other than being short or long sighted, you must inform the DVLA.

How do I get an eye test? 

Eye tests that check visual acuity and field of view can be booked at any local opticians, they are free for those aged 60 or over, as well as 16 to 18 year olds, or those in full time education. For the rest, eye tests usually cost between £30 and £50. 

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