Let's talk about: driver's eyesight

24 September 2019

As part of our new blog 'Let's talk about',we thought we'd take a look at how good your eyesight is and answer some of the most common questions asked.

Providing we have our eyes tested regularly and wear the glasses prescribed then, on the whole, we are safe behind the wheel.

So are your eyes in good driving order?

Is the law strict enough on ensuring people can see well enough to drive?

Generally the acceptable minimum vision is fine. There are stipulations that can make a driver unsafe in certain light conditions when on the road. The most important being the failure by drivers to use their prescribed glasses.

Should the law be changed?

The law is fine - it is the implementation that remains a problem. Not wearing the glasses prescribed is something that could be looked at. Anyone wearing glasses or contact lenses must carry a spare pair in the car so they don’t find themselves driving without the appropriate correction whether it is contact lenses or glasses.

Apart from short sightedness, what other eye conditions can affect the ability to drive safely?

Long sightedness can be equally debilitating, especially when the range of focusing ability is reduced to zero by the age of 60.

The light conditions also affect the ability to focus, so a mild degree of short sightedness in the day will become exaggerated and may well push a driver into having less than the legal minimum vision for driving at night.

By the same token, in bright light, certain types of cataract have a much greater effect on the vision and could effectively render a person effectively blind.

Can wearing tints or lens coatings improve the situation?

Tinted lenses aren’t recommended, as they be useful in good light conditions but, at night, would reduce the light going into the eye and therefore reduce the quality of vision.

What about people suffering from cataracts?

If you have been told by your GP you have cataracts makes sure you have your eyes tested on a regular basis. There are three main types of cataracts which can affect vision. The effects on driving of different types of cataract are listed below:

  1. Nuclear cataract- difficulty with night driving and in dim light.
  2. Posterior sub-capsular cataract – difficulty when driving towards the sun.
  3. Cortical cataract- usually flares, seeing a star burst type effect around lights such as street lights or car headlights.


Ophthalmologist consultants at Spire Cheshire Hospital

To book an appointment with one of our consultants ring 01925 26500 or send an enquiry.

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