Is a change in vision affecting your driving?

As you get older, changes in your vision and other health issues can affect your driving. There are lots things you can do to continue driving safely, like getting a free NHS eye examination.

Driving safely for longer

Changes in your eyesight, slower reaction times and medications can all affect driving. As a result, you may find you start to avoid driving at night, use the car less, drive shorter distances and generally avoid motorway driving where possible.

It is important to make sure that whenever you get in a car you are still able to drive safely. If you do notice changes in your vision, you don’t have to wait for your next eye examination, visit your local optometrist (opticians) for help and advice.

What you need to know

  • You should get regular NHS eye examinations to help ensure you’re driving safely
  • You can refresh your driving skills by take a refresher course through driving schools as well as national organisations such as IAM RoadSmart or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
  • The Highway Code had some major changes in 2022, so you should keep up to date with the latest changes
  • You may be eligible for help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses in the form of NHS optical vouchers
  • You must be able to read a number plate at a distance of 20 metres away – that’s roughly five car lengths
  • If you need to wear glasses, then do so while driving, otherwise it’s an offence which could invalidate your insurance

Don’t ignore changes in your vision

We spoke to older drivers about how they have adapted their driving as their vision changes. The best way to make sure your eyes are fit to drive is to have them examined regularly.

Hear from older drivers and their families


“I’m not as confident at driving as I once was…driving in the dark has become more challenging – the glare from headlights can be dazzling, so I’m reluctant to drive in the evenings and I stick to short journeys.”


“Driving is an important part of my day-to-day life and helps me stay active and independent. I have noticed changes in my vision…getting your eyes checked is not just about needing glasses; eye exams can also catch other health issues that might affect driving…”


“As I’ve aged, I’ve become more aware of my eyesight changing and how that affects my driving. I’m now less likely to drive long journeys or drive at night, when the glare from other cars and streetlights can make it harder to see.”


“Going to the opticians is a good way to stay proactive about your eyesight and means I can keep driving safely.”


“Getting my eyes checked by the optometrist is quick and easy and knowing my eyesight is up to scratch helps me stay confident on the road so I can keep enjoying the freedom of driving.”


“I am so happy that my mum has her independence by having access to a car that she can safely drive. I know she takes care to get regular eye tests and she knows this helps ensure she can keep driving herself and her grandchildren around safely.”


“As a person who values their independence and has a busy life, being able to keep driving as long as possible is important to me. Going for your regular eye exam, or whenever you notice your eyesight changing, is such an easy way to make sure you’re still safe on the road when you’re out and about.”  

Driving safely in later life

What can we do to keep ourselves, and others, safe on the roads? Read the five pieces of advice that Optometry Scotland gives over sixties to ensure they meet fitness to drive standards.

The law

You must tell the DVLA if you have a driving licence and you develop:

  • A ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability
  • A condition or disability that has gotten worse since you got your licence

Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect your ability to drive safely. They can include:

  • Diabetes or taking insulin
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Heart conditions
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes
  • Glaucoma

You could be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell the DVLA about a condition that might affect your ability to drive safely. You could also be prosecuted in the event of a collision, even if it is not your fault.

Get further information on common conditions and the law.

If you’re stopped by police for a check and you fail an eye test, your licence can be revoked immediately.

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