It is not only common sense to ensure your eyesight is good enough to enable you to drive comfortably…. You are breaking the law if it isn’t.
Studies suggest that up to one in five middle aged drivers are taking to the road knowing their eyesight is not as good as it should be.
The law is very clear. A driver of a car or motorbike must be able to read in good daylight – with glasses or contact lenses if they wear them – a number plate with symbols 97.4mm (three inches) high from a distance of 20 metres.
If they are unable to do this, their insurance may be invalidated. Driving with uncorrected defective vision is an offence punishable with a heavy fine, penalty licence points and possible driving disqualification.
Of course, the eyesight test involving reading number plates is conducted as part of the driving test. As the law stands however, no further sight checks are needed until the driver reaches the age of 70.
Some people may go short sighted, which means they cannot see as well in the distance – this most commonly happens from your teens up to your mid-twenties, but may happen at other times too. Regularly check your vision by reading a number plate from a distance of 20 metres. If you notice any changes, visit your optometrist for an eye examination.
Once drivers (and everyone else) reach their late 30s and early 40s their eye sight can start to deteriorate. So it is vital that those particularly in this age group go for regular eye examinations, whether they wear glasses or not.
Eye tips for drivers to keep everyone safely on the road:
- Always wear an up-to-date pair of glasses or contact lenses while driving, if they are needed.
- Keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle. In France and some other European countries drivers who wear glasses must, by law, carry a spare pair in the car.
- Don’t use tinted lenses for night driving.
- If possible, have an anti-reflection coat on your glasses.
- Keep your car windscreen clean, inside and out.
If you have glaucoma
If you drive a car and have been diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes, this will affect the amount you can see, and the law says that you must tell the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority). You may have to take some extra tests, but most people are still allowed to carry on driving.