By Lauren Reid
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Do you know what the eyesight requirements are for getting behind the wheel? Or how to tell if you might need an eye test? Our member partner, Specsavers, answers the big questions about driving and eyesight.
Do I need an eye test to keep my licence?
If you’ve got a diagnosed eye condition like glaucoma or macular degeneration then you’ll need an assessment from an optometrist to certify you’re fit to drive. If you wear glasses or contact lenses for smaller vision problems you won’t need a full assessment. If, however, you or your optometrist think your vision problems affect your ability to drive safely, you’re legally required to report it in writing to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles at GPO Box 1533, Adelaide SA – and it may be ordered as a condition on your licence.
How do the licence eyesight requirements change as you age?
From the age of 75, if you have no previous medical history reported to the Registrar, you’ll be sent a self-assessment of your eyesight each year if you hold a car licence.
If your doctor or optometrist feels your eyesight is affecting your ability to drive, they may ask you to take a 30-minute practical driving assessment. If you hold a licence for a different vehicle (i.e. motorcycle or truck), you’ll need to complete this test every year from the age of 85.
How can I tell if my eyesight is affecting my driving specifically?
You might notice it gets harder to concentrate, or that road markings or signs are looking a little fuzzy. It’s another warning sign if you get headaches, feel like you’re squinting, start to feel dizzy or notice more glare than usual when driving at night.
Even if you don’t notice any difference, it doesn’t mean your driving’s not affected, so follow up on any eyesight changes – big or small.
When should I start getting regular eye tests?
Everyone should be having regular eye tests to make sure their eyesight and eye health is normal. We recommend having a quick eye test every two years, but if you’ve got a family history of eye conditions, diabetes or high blood pressure, you may want to make this more frequent.
Some changes can happen so slowly that many don’t realise their vision has deteriorated until it’s too late, and there are also a number of sight-threatening eye conditions – such as glaucoma – that can have no side-effects until the damage is done, so routine eye tests are best to catch any issues in the early stages.
What are some signs I need an urgent eye test?
If you notice your vision is different, or if objects appear to have halos of light around them or are looking fuzzy around the edges, it might be time to head to the optometrist.
A sudden onset of dry, itchy or red eyes may mean you’re spending too long staring at a screen without blinking – or it could be something more, so don’t write off these symptoms.