Eyesight & Driving | Your Guide To Driving With Contacts
If you’re new to wearing contacts, or have just passed your driving test, you may be wondering if there are any adjustments you need to make before getting on the road in your lenses. Here are some tips to wearing contact lenses behind the wheel, along with some rules and regulations to follow.
Standards of Vision
In the UK, you must report any problems with your eyesight to the DVLA. This doesn’t include if you are short or long-sighted or if you’ve had eye surgery to correct short-sightedness (so long as you can still meet the eyesight standards). It does, however, include any other problems you may have that effect either both of your eyes or just one of them. If you’re unsure if your problem needs to be reported, you can check online at the DVLA website for your medical condition.
For car drivers, you must be able to read a car number plate (made after 1st September 2001) from 20 meters away – this can be done with glasses or contact lenses on if necessary. Additionally, you need to meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving, by having a visual acuity of 0.5 decimal (6/12) minimum, measured on the Snellen scale using either both eyes, or one eye if you only have sight in one.
This can also be done with glasses or contact lenses if necessary. You also need to have an adequate field of vision, which is something your opticians will be able to tell you about and test you for. For those who are lorry or bus drivers, the requirements are different, so be sure to speak to your optometrist about the standards that need to be adhered to.
Practical Driving Test Eyesight Test
At the beginning of your car practical driving test, you will be required to accurately read a number plate on a parked vehicle before you can continue with the test. If you are unable to do this, you won’t be able to continue with the test and will therefore fail. Your assessor will then pass this information on to the DVLA, and your licence will be revoked. As a result of this, when you reapply for your driving licence in the future, DVLA will require you to have an eyesight test, as well as having to pass the standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.
Only Ever Wear The Lenses You Have Been Prescribed
It’s vital that you only ever wear the contact lenses that have been prescribed by your optometrist, and never wear lenses that belong to someone else. Contact lenses that are different from the ones prescribed to you are likely to cause even further problems to your eyesight, not to mention the risks they could incur such as eye infections or eye ulcers. If you think your lens prescription is wrong or needs altering, speak to your optician about this.
Make Sure You’re Not Causing Discomfort To Your Eyes
If you feel your eyes get drier or cause discomfort when driving in your lenses, it may be due to excessive airflow. Try reducing the amount of airflow that’s directly hitting your face – for instance, try closing the driver’s side window, or adjusting the vents so they are redirected to another area of the car.
Use Eye Drops If Necessary
If dry eyes are a recurring problem when driving, speak to your optometrist about getting some eye drops to help lubricate the eyes; eye drops can also be beneficial for those who suffer from allergies.
It’s important to only ever get eye drops from an eye health professional, as not all drops are suitable for use on lenses. Ensure you try out any new drops before getting behind the wheel, and of course, always stop when and where it is safe to do so before putting the drops in, if needed while on the road.
Make Sure Your Prescription Is Up To Date
One of the best ways to ensure your eyesight is safe for driving is to keep your contact lens prescription up to date. Book regular eye health appointments and be sure to see your optician if anything has changed with either your eyesight or your lenses. Appointments with your optometrist aren’t just to check your prescription, but they can also help detect any possible eye health issues early on, so that they can be dealt with as soon as possible.
Speak To Your Optometrist About Alternative Lenses
If you feel things aren’t working out with your current lenses while driving, speak to your optometrist to discuss trying out alternative contacts. There are a range of different lenses available that may be more suitable to you in terms of both comfort and clarity, so don’t suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your vision.
Keep A Spare Pair Of Glasses In Your Car
It’s vital that you can see clearly when driving, for both your own safety and the safety of others. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a spare pair of glasses in your car, just in case an issue occurs with your lenses that prohibit your vision whilst driving.