Vision is important when you are driving as it means you will be able to judge all the potential hazards and ensure you keep yourself, as well as other road users, safe.
However, with around 47 per cent of the population reporting slight visual disorders, it is important this is monitored, according to the Optometrists Association of Australia's Victorian division. This has led to vision testing practice across the country, although the amount of testing can vary from state to state.
How will I know if my eyesight is acceptable for driving?
When you apply for a drivers licence, you will be required to declare any illness, disability or disease that could affect your ability to drive safely. If you are at all concerned about the state of your eyes, you could visit your optometrist for a check up. This is important if you are finding it hard to concentrate or focus, as it could indicate you have a refractive error such as short- or long-sightedness that needs to be corrected when you are driving. They are able to provide you with a certificate stating that your eyesight is satisfactory for driving. It may include a condition that you require corrective lenses when you're behind the wheel, in which case you will legally be required to wear them for driving. This will also be required if you have undergone eye surgery or lost sight in one eye. Older drivers must undergo a medical and eyesight examination every year in order to drive. This may start at age 70 or 75 depending on the state.
What does a vision test for driving include?
When your vision is tested for driving, your visual acuity and visual fields will be assessed, according to Vic Roads. How is visual acuity measured? Visual acuity will be measured using the Snellen chart, and you will be asked to read a series of letters starting from a larger print and ending up with fine print. If you are planning on driving a car, motorcycle or light truck, you must be able to pass an eyesight test indicated uncorrected or corrected vision in your better eye is better than 6/12. The test for buses and trucks is more stringent, and you must be able to see better than 6/9 in your better eye or better than 6/18 with both eyes.
How is visual field tested?
The degree to which you can see from both sides of your eyes can impact your driving. This means your peripheral vision will be tested. You will need to prove you have a horizontal extent of vision of at least 110 degrees within 10 degrees above or below the horizontal midline, according to the NSW chapter of the Optometrists Association Australia. If there is any visual field defect you will not be fit to hold an unconditional bus or truck licence. However, if your binocular vision extends 140 degrees above and below the horizontal midline and there is no significant field loss, hemianopia or quadrantanopia that is likely to impede vision. If visual field loss is static and unlikely to progress rapidly, then you may be able to get a conditional bus or truck licence. However, this will be subject to evidence from your optometrist.
Can I drive if I have monocular vision?
Drivers with only one eye will need to get an eyesight certificate issued by their optometrist or ophthalmologist if they want to drive. This is because their visual fields will be reduced and they have no stereoscopic vision. A conditional licence may be considered for private vehicles, but those with monocular vision will be unable to drive commercial vehicles. However, this can be considered by the driver licensing authority.