Cataracts & driving

Good vision is required for safe driving. Cataracts are the commonest cause of the gradual clouding of vision, loss of contrast, reduced colour and frustration with glasses that most people attribute to simply becoming older.

If you have a cataract in just one eye, you don’t need to inform the DVLA provided you don’t have a medical condition affection vision in the other eye. If you have a cataract in both eyes you must inform the DVLA.

Cataracts can affect driving vision in the following ways:

  • Foggy vision, especially on overcast days
  • Difficulty reading road signs or seeing other cars
  • Problems driving at night or in the rain
  • Glare from oncoming car headlights
  • Road markings, pedestrians and cars appear double
  • Slowing down of reaction time
  • General lack of confidence

People are usually very disappointed to learn that their vision is not good enough for driving. The good news is that surgery may reverse the effect of a cataract and bring a dramatic improvement in vision. If the eye is otherwise healthy, this may allow a return to driving within a week and also reduce dependence upon glasses.

If you have been told that your vision is borderline or below the requirement for driving and have another eye condition such as glaucoma or mild macular degeneration, surgery for an early cataract sometimes improves the vision sufficiently to allow driving to continue.