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Eyesight rules made clear – know the requirements for driving a vehicle

Driving in the UK demands strict adherence to eyesight rules to ensure road safety. The legal requirements for a driver’s vision are set by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and are critical for the safety of both the driver and others on the road. You will perform an eyesight check when you begin your lessons with us and also when you begin the driving test, in the test centre car park. Take some time to have a go at it if you are unsure before booking lessons, as it could save you a lot of issues later on.

Legal Requirements for Eyesight in UK Driving:

  1. Minimum Eyesight Standard: Drivers must be able to read a standard number plate from 20 meters (approximately the length of 5 cars). This applies to both new-style and old-style plates, with the latter requiring a distance of 20.5 meters. When you begin your driving test the DVSA examiner will check your eyesight so make sure you can either read the numberplate with a naked eye, or bring the correct glasses for driving.

  2. Visual Acuity and Field of Vision: The legal standard includes having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale, which can be with the aid of glasses or contact lenses if necessary. Additionally, drivers must have an adequate field of vision, ascertained by an optician.

  3. Regular Eyesight Tests: It is recommended that all drivers, regardless of age, have their eyes tested every two years. This is particularly important as vision can deteriorate over time. For drivers over 70, reapplying for their driving license every three years offers an opportunity to check if their vision still meets the required standards.

  4. Consequences of Poor Eyesight: Driving with eyesight below the required standard can lead to a fine of up to Β£1,000, 3 points on the license, or even disqualification from driving. Police can request the revocation of a license immediately if a driver is considered a risk to public safety.

  5. Hazards of Defective Eyesight: Poor eyesight significantly increases the risk of accidents. For instance, it can impair the ability to spot and react to road hazards, especially at night, and make it more challenging to navigate changes in road surfaces like mud, gravel, or potholes.

  6. Special Considerations: Color blindness does not require reporting to the DVLA, but individuals with this condition should pay extra attention to traffic lights and road signs. Those with tunnel vision must demonstrate a minimum of 120 degrees vision spanning the central viewpoint. Moreover, drivers with complete loss of vision in one eye can still drive on a non-commercial license if they pass the necessary eyesight tests.


Maintaining adequate eyesight is a fundamental requirement for safe driving in the UK. Regular eye exams, using corrective lenses as needed, and being aware of how various conditions affect vision are all part of responsible driving. By complying with these legal standards, drivers contribute significantly to road safety.

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