How Well Do We Need to See to Drive?

April 7, 2021
How Well Do We Need to See to Drive?

We can all agree that it is vital to have good vision to be able to drive safely.  Being able to see well includes both our visual acuity (ability of distinguishing details) and our visual field (our central and peripheral vision). Eyebou's lead optometrist, Mai Monavar, discusses the importance of keeping your vision in check and shares a few tips when it comes to your eyewear and driving.


To keep yourself and those around you safe, it’s important to have regular eye examinations so that your optometrist can advise if you meet the visual standards required to drive. If your optometrist has suggested your vision does not meet the legal standards required without your glasses or contact lenses, or even with your glasses and contact lenses, you must follow their advice in order to protect yourself and others on the road. Driving when medically unfit is a criminal offence in the UK, which could result in a fine and even prosecution.

You can check your vision with the Eyebou iOS app as well as book a virtual consultation to see an optometrist within minutes.

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DVLA rules

In the UK, if you drive a car you must:

  • Be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate (made after 1 September 2001) from a distance of 20 metres away.
  • Have a visual acuity of at least 6/12 measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye. Your optometrist can advise you if you meet this or not. 
  • Have a good field of vision. If your optometrist detects a reduced field of vision, they will advise you to tell the DVLA who will arrange for a more in depth assessment to ensure you are legal and safe to drive.

Keep in mind that you are responsible for informing the DVLA if you no longer meet the visual requirements, or if you have a condition or disability that has worsened since getting your licence.


Glasses & contact lenses when driving

As above, if your optometrist has told you that you need to wear glasses for driving, make sure that you do, even for very short trips, as you'll need to be able to see small detail on road signs and for driving at night. If you already wear spectacles while you're behind the wheel, here are a few tips:

  • You may find it handy to keep a spare pair of glasses in the car, especially if you wear contact lenses and need to take them out.
  • If you're picking out a new pair of frames – glasses with thinner sides are helpful for maximising your peripheral vision.
  • An anti-reflective coating on your lenses may help reduce dazzling headlights and glare that can be uncomfortable.
  • Do not wear amber tinted Night frames while driving, as this can make it harder to see when driving at night. Remember, Night frames are designed to help your quality of sleep by increasing melatonin levels before climbing into bed.
  • Consider polarised tinted sunglasses to wear when sunlight is particularly dazzling and low in the sky, or when it’s bright and the road surface is wet. These lenses will help with those blinding glares.

Picking out a pair of eyeglasses on Eyebou is easy and you'll be able to customize the lenses to suit your needs for when you're driving.

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