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 there are a few Dos and Don’ts:
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.
The DVLA was enormously impacted by the pandemic and lockdown, however measures have been put in place to minimise disruption. The contract between Specsavers and the DVLA is back up and running again, so drivers’ Visual Fields (VF) can be tested, and capacity has actually increased compared to pre-COVID-19.
If you receive an appointment for a VF test but are shielding and therefore do not want to attend an examination, the DVLA recommend that you call the medical line to let them know. You can either postpone the appointment, withdraw your application, or surrender your licence. Once you finish shielding, you can reapply for your licence. However, you would need to wait for the next available appointment.
Any driving licences which expired between February 2020 and December 2020 were automatically extended for 11 months. As the DVLA are now back up and running, they are not expecting more extensions to any licences. If your licence expires in 2021, you should expect to renew it as normal.
The DVLA emphasised that if you have noticed a change in your medical condition, you should report it. However, they appreciate that this can be difficult with a symptomless condition such as glaucoma, especially if your hospital appointments have been postponed. It could be that your condition has deteriorated, and you have no way of knowing. However, if you are concerned your vision may have worsened during the pandemic, and you may no longer be safe to drive, you should:
If you have not noticed a change in your vision, and you have a valid driving licence or you have a renewal application pending, you are fully compliant with the law and don’t need to worry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, and this test being send 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.
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.
Listen to Glaucoma UK Professor David Garway-Heath talk about glaucoma and the impact on driving.
Watch our glaucoma and driving simulation film showing how glaucoma can impact on sight whilst driving.
If you have more questions or would like advice about notifying the DVLA, our helpline staff are happy to help.
Call 01233 64 81 70 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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