Your life and eyes 4 min read

Will presbyopia affect my vision on the road?

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Whether you drive a car, ride a bicycle or motorbike, or simply prefer to walk, great vision is critical for road safety. So much so that the WHO (World Health Organization) declares poor eyesight among the main risk factors for road crashes.(1)

Presbyopia is a natural part of ageing. This is where your near vision starts to weaken due to the lens within your eye losing flexibility. Symptoms usually start to occur from the early 40s. Even if you’ve had perfect eyesight, you may find that you need to hold your phone a little further away. You may have even acquired your first pair of reading glasses, but have you been for an eye test to check your vision for road safety? 

What does it mean?

The eye’s muscular contractions become weaker over time. The eye needs these contractions to be strong and sharp as this is what allows us to focus on close objects. It’s a condition that doesn’t develop until we reach our mid-to-late thirties so the symptoms can be slow to show themselves and the only way to determine when this occurs is by taking an eye test.

If you don’t, you could struggle to read road signs, see your dials, spot hazards and follow your Sat Nav.

If left uncorrected you could be on the road with less sharpness than what’s necessary in order to remain safe — for you and others. 

Correcting presbyopia

There are many ways to correct your vision when you are out and about. A simple solution is to invest in the right pair of glasses. Varifocal lenses, such as Varilux, will help sharpen your vision both at distance and near; helping to solve presbyopia. This allows you to switch seamlessly from checking your Sat Nav to looking at the road ahead. 

Glare from the sun on the road

When we’re on the road it’s not just eye conditions such as presbyopia that can affect our vision, glare can also be an issue when we drive. You have most likely experienced glare from the sun when you are on the road and will be fully aware of how blinding and distracting it can be. Xperio lenses, which are tinted polarised lenses, can help reduce reflected glare from the roads and surrounding surfaces. Polarised lenses eliminate blinding glare resulting in optimal visual comfort and can even improve driving reaction times.(2)  

If you find yourself driving throughout the day into the night you might want to consider light intelligent lenses that tint when exposed to sunlight and are clear at night. Transitions XTRActive lenses darken behind the windscreen in response to bright sunlight. If glare is an issue at night, there’s a solution.

Crizal Drive will offer protection from reflections from artificial light sources , such as street lamps and headlights. This lens enhancement can reduce reflections at night by up to 90%(3) meaning you’ll have comfortable vision and improved visual acuity every time you put on your glasses.

Legal vision requirements for driving

In the UK and the EU, a minimum binocular visual acuity of 6/12 is required, along with the ability to see a number plate at 20 metres away (in good light). Additionally, a horizontal visual field of at least 120 degrees and no significant defect within the central 20 degrees from fixation — when you are looking directly at a target in question, for example — is also a requirement to drive in the UK.

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 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 altogether if your eyesight does not meet the minimum standards. 

It’s an obvious statement, but a lack of vision correction can be dangerous when driving. Drivers with poor eyesight will not be able to read road signs or may spot hazards significantly later than those without problems.(4)

Blurred image of hazard on road

Driving glasses

To discover the lens solution for you in regards to correcting presbyopia and enhancing your lenses for the road, we have developed a personalised configuration assessment.

Simply answer a series of questions and the tool will generate the lens combination to correct and protect your eyes and enhance your clarity. What’s more, don’t forget to book an eye test every two years to remain safe on the road. 


Take our driving and vision quiz

Take the quiz


(1) Source: 2006, World Health Organization Training Manual: Road Traffic Injury Prevention.(2) Survey conducted on 27 wearers, comparing visual performance with polarized and non-polarised sunglasses under reflected glare by measuring contrast sensitivity – Saint-Maur R&D.(3) vs. a standard hard coat lens with no anti-reflective coating (4) Source: 2013, Essilor R&D internal calculations for Taxi Drivers Study. Calculations done taking into account only the visual performances of the driver. For a road panel positioned on a straight road at a height of 4m, if a person with 1.0 visual acuity (capable to discern 2 points seen under an angle of 1 minute-arc) see a detail on a road panel at 100 mts, a person with 0.5 visual acuity

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Understanding Presbyopia

Presbyopia is an age-related long-sightedness, which affects your ability to see objects close up. It occurs when the lens loses its flexibility.