Driving and glaucoma
This section covers the DVLA requirements for driving with glaucoma.
- To see the IGA respone to the Parliamentary and Health Service investigation into the DVLA Drivers Medical Group, click here.
- To listen to Professor David Garway-Heath talk about glaucoma and the impact on driving, click here
- More information about driving can be found in a film showing how glaucoma can impact on sight whilst driving.
- Our Driving and Glaucoma leaflet is currently being updated and will be available from November 2016.
The following information is applicable to the UK only, other countries may have different regulations and it is important to check with the authority concerned.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is legally responsible for deciding whether a driver is medically fit enough to drive a vehicle. This includes the driver's visual ability. A driver must be able to have both good central vision and adequate peripheral vision.
Glaucoma in one eye
For Group One drivers, if glaucoma is diagnosed in one eye and the other eye has a normal field of vision then it is not necessary to inform the DVLA. Group Two drivers need to advise the DVLA even if they have glaucoma in one eye only, as tests are more stringent for commercial drivers.
Glaucoma in both eyes
For Group One drivers, the DVLA only needs to be advised of glaucoma when visual field loss affects both eyes.
If you have glaucoma in both eyes, the DVLA will need further details about the vision and may arrange to contact the patient's eye specialist for an appropriate report. In addition, the DVLA will often arrange an examination of the patient's visual field at Specsavers.
The minimum standards for driving a Group 1 vehicle (ordinary private car) are set out below. Group 2 vehicles (heavy goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles) have more stringent standards, and patients who wish to drive these vehicles should seek the advice of the Drivers Medical Branch of the DVLA.
With both eyes open, the driver should have a visual acuity of at least 6/12, which means seeing at six metres what a person with normal vision can see at 12 metres distance AND be able to read the standard car number plate at 20 metres with or without glasses or contact lenses.
The test results are sent to the DVLA and it is the DVLA who determine whether the standard has been met or not.
The test will be performed with both eyes open and will be different from the test usually performed by optometrists or hospital eye departments to assess glaucoma. The frames of glasses can interfere with the peripheral vision so take the advice of the testing technician as to whether glasses should be worn for the test or not. The DVLA can only make a decision based on accurate visual field charts. Customers can take up to three visual field tests if the first or second charts do not comply with accuracy standards (This test is known as the Esterman test).
What the DVLA assesses in the visual field test
The driver should have a peripheral (off centre) vision on both sides and no significant defect in the central vision. This test will be carried out with each eye separately both with and without glasses or contact lenses and with both eyes together.
The DVLA guidance states the need for the driver to have a binocular horizontal field of vision of 120 degrees minimum with not less than 50 degrees on each side of the centre and no significant field defect either within or encroaching onto the 20 degrees of fixation (see image in leaflet).
A Medical Adviser at the DVLA will look at the result of the test and a judgement will be made as to whether the driver meets the standard or not.
Both the visual field test and the visual acuity test must be carried out by an appropriately qualified and trained operator, in a quiet location, free from distraction with illumination appropriate to the specification for the equipment used.
Right to appeal
If you do receive a form from the DVLA witholding or revoking your driving licence, this will include the information regarding your right to appeal and advice on the process. If your visual field test does not meet the required standard, it is possible to seek a second opinion from an independent optometrist, and have a further visual field test at your own expense. The DVLA will consider the best test result. if the independent optometrist test is favourable, the DVLA will allow reapplication and will send you for a further test at Specsavers. If you have any other additional medical information that wasn't available when a revockation decision was made, the DVLA invite customers to submit the additional information and a dedicated team will review it promptly.
A formal appeal to the Magistrates Court of England or Wales, or a Sheriff Court in Scotland, is also available. The time limit varies. If lodging an appeal in England or Wales, this needs to be done within six months of revocation. The time limit in Scotland is different. A driver must bring the appeal against revocation within three weeks of the decision being made. It is vital that drivers in Scotland use the correct postal address and that they send the information promptly to: DM Business Support, D7, DVLA, SA99 1ZZ. There is a team who will prioritise such cases and will process and respond immediately. Before deciding to formally appeal, do feel free to discuss with your eye specialist or GP to confirm whether or not you have a valid case, because if you lose your appeal you may have to bear the costs involved.
Contact details for the DVLA
DM Business Support
Licence Group One call: 0300 79 06 806
LGV and PVC Group Two call: 0300 79 06 807
It is important to appreciate that insurance cover may become void if an individual fails to meet the medical requirements and if the insured driver with visual field loss in each eye has failed to inform the DVLA of their condition. As long as the DVLA allows continued driving then the insurance companies should not refuse insurance.