The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) mandates specific eyesight requirements for drivers in the UK to ensure the safety of all road users. These regulations are designed to confirm that drivers have the adequate visual capability to operate a vehicle safely under various conditions.
DVLA Eyesight Standards for Car and Motorcycle Drivers
For car and motorcycle drivers (referred to as Group 1 licence holders), the DVLA requires the ability to read a car number plate from a distance of 20 metres. Additionally, drivers must have a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale, with or without corrective lenses. An adequate field of vision is also required, and an optician typically assesses this through specific tests.
Lorry and Bus Drivers
The standards are more stringent for lorry and bus drivers (Group 2 licence holders). These drivers must have a visual acuity of at least 0.8 (6/7.5) in the better eye and at least 0.1 (6/60) in the other eye, as measured on the Snellen scale. Corrective lenses may be used to meet these standards, but glasses must not have a corrective power of more than (+) 8 dioptres. The horizontal visual field must be at least 160 degrees, with extensions of at least 70 degrees to the left and right and 30 degrees up and down. No significant defects should be within a radius of the central 30 degrees.
Notifying the DVLA
Drivers must inform the DVLA of any eyesight problems that affect both eyes or the remaining eye if they only have one. Conditions that do not need to be reported include being short or long-sighted or colour-blind unless you cannot meet the standards of vision for driving. However, if you’ve had surgery to correct short-sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards, you also do not need to report this.
Practical Driving Test Eyesight Test
At the beginning of the practical driving test, candidates must read a car number plate from 20 metres away. Failure to do so results in the immediate failure of the test and the DVLA will revoke the candidate’s licence. Candidates must then pass an eyesight test with the DVSA at a driving test centre before they can retake the practical driving test.
Exceptional Cases and Additional Standards
Certain conditions may allow for exceptional cases where standard requirements are adjusted. For instance, drivers with static visual field defects may apply for a provisional licence under specific guidelines. Moreover, individuals with monocular vision (sight in one eye) must meet the same standards as binocular drivers and may drive only after receiving clinical advice on successful adaptation to their condition.