Can you Drive if you are Blind in one Eye?by Russell HuebschUpdated August 16, 2023
People who have a blind eye can generally perform most tasks, like driving a car or piloting a plane, that someone with good vision can because of surrounding visual cues. Driving with one good eye may include some relatively minor inconveniences and require more diligence. The biggest hurdles come from proving to the Department of Motor Vehicles that the driver is able to handle a car.
The Facts About Vision Requirements
Although driving restrictions for the visually impaired vary from state to state, most states will allow people to drive so long as they have at least one functioning eye — called monocular vision. Usually, states’ DVLA have a vision specialist-approved vision requirement for drivers. For example, California’s is 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other. Certain rules may apply, such as having to wear corrective lenses while operating a car. If this is your case, talk to your optician about what the best option for you may be.
Usually, vision loss in an eye does not significantly impair the ability to drive a car during the day. However, individuals with eye disease or blindness in one eye have very poor night vision because of the lighting contrast. Thus, many states don’t allow people with monocular vision to do any night driving.
Considerations and Vision Tests
While a person may still feel that she can still drive safely with sight in only one eye, anybody that develops a visual impairment before having to renew their driver's license should contact their local motor vehicle department to get their driving ability reevaluated and take an eye exam, reports Mark E. Wilkinson, Director of University of Iowa's Vision Rehabilitation Service. In some states, drivers are legally required to take a state vision screening test. This could mean that drivers are asked to read number plates or road signs to test visual acuity and depth perception. Some states might make individuals with this health condition take a driving test.
Changes in your field of vision requires tweaking driving habits and taking more caution on the road. The nose becomes a new blind spot in your horizontal visual field that the functioning eye takes a few days to get used to. While driving, the driver must completely turn their head instead of depending on peripheral vision to check their blind spot mirrors.
First time drivers who have low vision in one eye may find it difficult to get a driving license, or current drivers may have trouble removing restrictions, reports Wilkinson. Drivers can often receive written confirmation from their optometrist or vision rehabilitation therapist stating the individual's medical condition does not impair their ability to operate an automobile.
People with monocular vision often report that the biggest hurdle to driving on one eye are the psychological factors; believing that losing sight in one eye means the individual has less mobility than they had with binocular vision, reports eye specialists at LostEye. For the first few times driving with monocular vision, the driver may want to have a trusted companion point out blind spots, check their rear vision and judge distances for reassurance.
Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.