Is there a legal vision requirement for driving?
In the UK, a minimum binocular visual acuity of 6/12 is required along with a horizontal visual field of at least 120 degrees and no significant defect within the central 20 degrees.
Even though once you have passed your driving test, there is no legal requirement to be re-examined, be aware that the Police can stop you at any time to ensure you can meet these standards.
It is also the duty of your optometrist and/or GP to advise you not to drive without the adequate correction or to advise you to stop all together if your eyesight does not meet the minimum standards.
What happens to our vision as we age?
As we age, slow-progressing, age-related visual conditions can be present but with not so very obvious symptoms in the earlier stages. Some of these are:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Optic neuropathy
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Dry eye
While age-related visual problems are quite common, not every person over the age of 60 may encounter them, the best way to identify and manage them is to spot changes in your vision early and to let your optician know. If you do not notice any changes it’s still important to attend regular eye examinations because, as mentioned above, some symptoms might not be so obvious and slow progressing.
Purely in terms of driving safely on the roads, here’s a quick check-list you could go through:
- Are you able to read all road signs clearly?
- Are you able to read the car panel and GPS maps?
- Are you swift in judging speed and distance?
- Are you able to interpret colours clearly?
- Are you able to drive comfortably at night?
- Do you have a full field of vision?
- Do you suffer from eye fatigue?
- Are you light-sensitive?
If you have answered ‘no’ to any of these, it may be time to take a few additional steps in order to ensure your safety while driving.
Get a comprehensive eye examinations at least every 2 years
The ageing eye needs to be closely monitored for any degenerative changes that may cause permanent loss of vision. Along with visual acuity testing and slit-lamp examination, make sure that you also get your contrast sensitivity and visual fields tested. If a pathology condition such as cataract, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration or glaucoma is found, your optometrist may recommend more frequent eye examinations.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
If you are diabetic or hypertensive, do ask your doctor for dietary and lifestyle recommendations to keep your condition under check. Sudden and frequent fluctuations in blood pressure or blood sugar levels can cause irreparable damage to your retina and potentially lead to the development of conditions such as glaucoma.
Reflections from flat surfaces, headlights and windscreens can cause visual fatigue and can severely interfere with your driving experience. If you wear prescription glasses of any kind, it may be worthwhile investing in a good quality anti-reflective coating, such as Crizal, to help reduce annoying reflections and glare. You can also opt for a driving specific lens enhancement to achieve high clarity when on the road(1).
As a driver over the age of 60, you have experience on your side. A customised vision-enhancement solution can help with the rest. Our lens configuration quiz is designed to factor in your particular needs and recommend a visual solution that is perfect for you. You can take the quiz here.
(1) Up to 90% less reflections when driving at night with Crizal Drive vs. a standard hard coat lens with no anti-reflective coating.