Eye Exams for Drivers

If you’ve ever applied for a driver’s license, you probably recall the eye examination. The process typically involves disclosing any vision issues and then reading letters off an eye chart, though each state has its own eye testing regulations. Planning on getting or renewing your license anytime soon? Read on for some info and tips on taking a DMV eye exam:


Driver’s Eye Exams

All states require individuals to take an eye exam as a condition for receiving a first driver’s license, though some states don’t require a vision test when a driver renews his license. States generally provide eye testing at driver’s license facilities, though some states will accept a doctor’s certificate showing that you’ve recently passed an eye exam. State driver’s license agency websites usually contain information on the eye testing process, as well as tips for passing the test. Be sure to bring your eyeglasses to the testing site, as you may not be able to even attempt the test without them.

Some states require elderly drivers to undergo more frequent vision examinations: If you live in such a state, it’s important to pay attention to the testing schedule so that you don’t inadvertently allow your driver’s license to lapse.


Restricted Licenses

States often issue restricted licenses to individuals who have visibility problems. The terms of these restricted licenses vary, but may require the driver to wear corrective eyewear while driving, or may limit driving to daylight hours. Individuals who do have visibility issues, may also have to undergo additional eye testing by an optometrist or medical doctor and may also have to complete a special driver’s education course.


Assistance for Drivers With Visual Impairments

In addition to providing driver’s education programs for individuals with poor eyesight, individuals who can’t qualify for a driver’s license because of low vision may qualify for certain public transit benefits, including reduced fares and even para-transit services, which provide on-call transportation in areas that are otherwise under-served by public transportation systems. If your eyesight prevents you from driving, ask your local public transit company for details on its services for the disabled.


Preparing for a Driver’s Vision Test

Just as consumer advocates encourage job seekers to check their credit before applying for work, it may be a good idea to have your eyes checked before making the trip down to the DMV. Not only will you avoid the annoyance of failing an eye test, and then having to go see an eye doctor anyway, but you’ll also be able to talk to your doctor about your vision concerns, as well as receiving on-the-spot counseling and information about any problems revealed by the exam.



Don’t let passing a DMV vision test give you a false sense of security: As the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet notes, reading the Snellen eye chart is just one aspect of a thorough, clinical eye exam. It is possible to pass the eye exam and still have an undetected eye disease that could cause or contribute to future vision loss. Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, it is generally a good idea to have your eyes checked every two years.