Driving with Deteriorating Eyesight: Dos and Donts

Roads can be dangerous places even for motorists with perfect eyesight. So it doesn’t take a lot to understand that bad eyesight could place us at a greater risk of meeting with an accident. Research hasn’t so far found a conclusive link between worsening eyesight and the increased risk of accidents, but in the UK thousands of drivers have had their driving licenses suspended because of their poor eyesight.

Do you happen to have poor eyesight? Do you know what the rules say about driving with compromised vision in this state? Let’s delve into the matter so that you do not end up hurting yourself because of your worsening eyesight.

Poor Night Vision

Driving in the night, or low light conditions during any time, presents its own set of problems.

A number of drivers suffer from this. Your poor night vision could be a result of a medical condition, a deficiency, or a congenital problem.

If your vision in the night is blurred or if images appear haloed to you, visit an eye specialist.

Unfortunately there’s no fixed way to correct poor night vision, though treating the condition causing this problem may help. Vitamin A supplementation and an overall good diet could also prove to be helpful. For best results, however, avoid driving in the night, in the rains, or when the conditions are overcast.

Go for Yearly Eye Tests

This is the best advice we can give anyone with less than perfect eyesight.

If you already suffer from poor vision or have to wear corrective lenses, don’t go for years without having your eyesight checked, regardless of how old you are. Once a year is good enough for you to get your eyes tested. Don’t wait until your vision has considerably deteriorated for you to consult a doctor. Eyesight deterioration often sneaks up on us. Especially if you are in a job where you spend 8 to 9 hours in front of the computer (or any screen that’s continuously radiating at you from a close distance) you might want to be very particular about this.

Driving for long hours also puts stress on the eyes. Anything that stresses your eyes – driving, staring at the computer screen for long hours, reading on your tablet in the night, reading in low light for long hours, not sleeping properly and exposing your eyes to glaring light on a regular basis – can lead to worsening vision. We often don’t see the cumulative effect of our lifestyle habits on our health, mind, and vision until it’s too late. Therefore, make it an annual affair to get your eyes tested.

Driving with Aging

In older drivers the problem of deteriorating vision is worse since with age our pupils shrink and our retinas receive far less light than they used to when we were younger.

Then there are other eye conditions like cataract, commonly seen in older people, which are slow formations, making it difficult to detect if they have affected the eyesight for worse in their initial stages.

Ask your doctor if your eyesight has worsened to the extent that it could affect your driving, especially in the night. Follow precautions and watch out for things that make you uncomfortable – the glare from the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, for instance; it should ideally not make you wince, and certainly not cause your eyes any pain, or the inability to see things close to you, also known as presbyopia, another common occurrence as we age.

Be Honest with Yourself

Being able to see clearly and being able to focus well are two different things. As a driver you need to do both, as well as process at a very fast speed what’s happening on the road and around you. If you feel your ability to process multiple things or spot the important things in time has taken a hit (due to your age, your bad eyesight, or anything else), pause to consider rectifying the problem.

There’s no point in making this a prestige issue. If you cannot see well or focus as you need to, you are better off taking a break from driving until you have fixed the problem.

What the rules say about driving and the quality of your eyesight in North Carolina

 The vision standard of the state DMV is 20/40. Those who do not meet it are expected to wear prescribed glasses/corrective lenses at the time of driving.
 Drivers whose vision is deteriorating due to a medical condition will need their eyesight tested every 1 to 2 years.
 Drivers with their vision correctable to 20/70 must wear glasses/lenses while driving and should not exceed the speed limit of 45 miles per hour. They should not drive on the interstate highways either.
 Drivers with their vision correctable to 20/100 can only drive during the day and may need to get their vision tested every 6 months to a year.
 Senior drivers are expected to undergo a vision test at the time of license renewal.

Check out the North Carolina DMV’s website for more details.


Eyes are precious, and so is your life. Take good care of both of them and drive safely.

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