New approach for assessing drivers vision


Being a motorist myself, it makes me feel uneasy knowing, that one in ten motorists who require glasses in order to drive have admitted being lax about wearing them at all (Survey of 5.3 million motorists conducted by LV insurance). Driving without your glasses or contact lenses is a criminal offense, you are not only endangering yourself but other road users and pedestrians by doing so.

Currently all drivers are required to read a number plate at a distance of 20.5 meters in order to pass their test. If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses in order to see clearly these can be worn for the test, they must also be worn whenever you are driving thereafter. You are breaking the law by driving without glasses or contact lenses; this can also result in a fine of up to £1000, three penalty points or disqualification from driving.

An eye test is not legally required for drivers until they are 70 years old nevertheless good vision is imperative for drivers of all ages, regular eye exams will reveal eyesight problems that can be treated early to ensure your eyesight is safeguarded for longer. It is recommended to have your eyes checked at least every 2 years even if you think your eyes are normal.

If you wear glasses it is wise and sensible to always carry a spare pair in the car just in case you damage or lose the pair you are wearing.

The Eye Health Alliance are encouraging the government to introduce a more structured and scientific approach to assessing drivers vision which will ensure tests are carried out every 10 years. The Optical Confederation would like to replace the number plate test as this is thought to be an inadequate assessment of a drivers vision for several reasons such as environmental conditions on the day.

A spokesperson for the Eye Health Alliance said:

“Not only is the number plate test ineffective and unfair but the current system places to much responsibility on the driver to self-report problems with their vision to the DVLA. Many drivers do not notice a gradual change in their eyesight and are therefore unaware that they fall below the legal eyesight requirement for driving. According to the International Glaucoma Association, a person can lose up to 40% of their vision before they realise they have a problem with their eyesight.”

The UK government has until January 2011 to regulate a procedure for screening all car and motorbike drivers similar to the current legislation for professional drivers.

Tony (SelectSpecs)

Tony is the resident optician at, you'll normally find him blogging about eye health and sharing his general optical knowledge.

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