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Driving with glaucoma

When they’re diagnosed with glaucoma, many people worry about losing their driving licence. In fact, only 12% of people with glaucoma lose their licence. If you’re diagnosed early and follow the advice of your doctor, particularly about using eye drops, the chances are that you’ll never lose your licence due to glaucoma. But you must tell the DVLA about your glaucoma if you have glaucoma in both eyes, or if you’re a commercial driver and you have glaucoma in one eye.

DVLA rules: do I need to tell the DVLA?

This section provides information and support on driving with glaucoma and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) requirements if you have been diagnosed.

Glaucoma in one eye

If you have glaucoma in just one eye, you only need to tell the DVLA if you’re a commercial (group two) driver.

Group one drivers with glaucoma in one eye and normal vision in the other don’t need to let the DVLA know.

Group one drivers with glaucoma in one eye and ocular hypertension in the other also don’t need to inform the DVLA.

Glaucoma in both eyes

All drivers who have glaucoma in both eyes must inform the DVLA.

Legal responsibilities

You are legally responsible for notifying the DVLA about any medical condition which may affect your ability to drive. If you don’t tell them, you could be fined and your car insurance may be invalid.

To notify the DVLA, visit their website: https://www.gov.uk/real-condition

Please note, this online form is only suitable to use if you have a single medical condition. If you have more than one condition which may affect your ability to drive, contact the DVLA directly and they will send you the appropriate forms.

Contact details for the DVLA

Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Drivers Customer Services

Correspondence Team, DVLA

Swansea SA6 7JL

Contact: glaucomaqueries@dvla.gov.uk
Website: www.dvla.gov.uk

Licence Group One call: 0300 79 06 806

LGV and PVC Group Two call: 0300 79 06 807

But my sight is fine…

Because glaucoma is a gradual condition and the peripheral (off-centre) part of the vision is usually lost first, damage to our vision can be unnoticed. This is partly because one eye can compensate (or fill in) for the other if the damage is to different parts of the visual field. Unfortunately, if the damaged areas of vision in both eyes overlap, the brain fills in the missing parts of the visual image. Because this has happened slowly, our brains adapt and we don’t know which areas we are missing – with serious consequences for driving.

You might think your vision is fine, but the only way to check is by having your visual field tested.

What happens next?

Testing your vision

If you tell the DVLA about your glaucoma, they will normally require you to have a visual field test to measure the extent of any sight loss in one or both eyes. Specsavers have the contract to carry out DVLA vision tests, and you can go to a branch of your choice.  Unlike your normal visual field test, this one is done on both eyes at the same time, and you can wear any spectacles that you normally wear for driving.

More information about driving standards and the testing process is available in our leaflet, which is available to order or download.

Appealing a DVLA decision

If the DVLA decide not to re-issue your licence following a test, you can informally appeal their decision. There are strict time limits for this (different in Scotland to the rest of the UK) and the process involves having another visual field test at an optometrist of your choice. This test is sent to the DVLA for assessment. You will have to pay for this. Around 60% of informal appeals are successful (as of 2019).

The formal appeal process is more involved and can be significantly more costly. More information about the appeal process is available in our leaflet.

Driving insurance

You must inform your insurance company that you have glaucoma in each eye, otherwise your insurance may no longer be valid. If the DVLA allow you to keep driving, the insurance company will not refuse to provide cover, and your premium should not be affected.

The DVLA and COVID-19: what’s the latest?

The DVLA was enormously impacted by the pandemic and lockdown. Specsavers continue to test drivers’ visual fields (VF) on behalf of the DVLA, and capacity has actually increased compared to pre-COVID-19. There still remains a backlog of tests to be completed. Specsavers and DVLA are working through this in chronological order, but there may be a delay. We recommend you apply for your renewal online if possible, and in plenty of time before your licence expires.

If you are due to complete your visual field test as your driving licence is near to expiry, you will be contacted by the DVLA. They will tell you when you are eligible to book the visual field test at a Specsavers near you. In some situations, this may be after your driving licence has expired. If this is the case, you are still legally entitled to drive under Section 88 of the Road Act 1988 provided you meet both of these criteria:

  • You have not noticed any change in your vision since you last completed a visual field test for the DVLA and
  • You have already applied to the DVLA to renew your driving licence

However, if you are worried your vision may have worsened since your last appointment or visual field test, and you may no longer be safe to drive, you should:

  • phone your hospital eye department, and request an appointment;
  • stop driving if you are genuinely concerned, and wait until you have been seen by an eye care professional and had your visual fields checked.

What impact does glaucoma have when driving?

As glaucoma progresses gradually, up to 40% of vision can be lost before the effects are noticed. The peripheral (off-centre) part of the vision is usually lost first, which you can see in this glaucoma simulation kindly provided by City, University of London.

Order our free ‘Glaucoma and driving’ booklet

This booklet explains who must inform the DVLA and what will happen next. An absolute must for all drivers with glaucoma.

Play

Watch our digital glaucoma support group on driving and glaucoma

Jonathan Clarke, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital and member of DVLA driver’s medical panel for vision, hosts this digital glaucoma support group all about driving and glaucoma.

We are here to help

If you have more questions or would like advice about notifying the DVLA, our helpline staff are happy to help.

Call the helpline on 01233 64 81 70 or email helpline@glaucoma.uk

We’re open 9.30am – 5.00pm on weekdays.

If you call outside these working hours, just leave a message and we’ll call you back as soon as possible.

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