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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

What Eye Conditions Stop You from Driving?

Driving is an integral aspect of modern life, yet, certain eye conditions may impact one's ability to drive safely. Here we will talk about what eye conditions stop you from driving, exploring their effects, legal implications, and treatment.

Legal Implications and Driving Standards

Our list (down below) consists of medical conditions which will affect your vision and driving abilities. But when it comes to legal implications which will stop you from driving, that's a bit more complex topic.

Driving regulations vary globally. But they all have something in common. And that's specific standards regarding vision requirements for licensure. Some jurisdictions mandate periodic vision screening or medical certification for drivers, especially older adults.

Please research more on what the legislations are in your country and state.

Legal considerations may involve medical assessments and periodic reevaluation of driving fitness.

Eye Conditions That Affect Driving

Driving demands sharp visual perception. Any compromise in vision can jeopardize road safety. If you have any of these eye conditions, consult an eye doctor to discuss if there are treatments to improve your state, so you can remain a safe driver:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

  • Glaucoma

  • Cataracts

  • Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

  • Corneal Dystrophies

  • Blindness (Legal Blindness)

  • Stroke and Neurological Disorders

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD affects central vision, essential for reading signs and recognizing road hazards. Older individuals with advanced age-related macular degeneration may also experience blind spots or distortion in their central vision.

Anti-VEGF injections can slow the progression of AMD. Vitamin supplements, containing zinc and antioxidants, may also benefit certain types of AMD.


Glaucoma can lead to high intraocular pressure (IOP) peripheral vision loss. Therefore, impacting one's ability to detect objects and hazards from the sides and limits awareness on the road.

Management involves prescription eye drops to lower IOP, the main risk factor for glaucoma. Other effective treatments are laser therapy and surgery - trabeculectomy or minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).


Cataracts cause clouding of the eye lens, lowering contrast and glare sensitivity. Night driving may get hard due to road lights and headlights glare.

Surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens is often effective in restoring vision and thus driving ability. There are numerous cataract surgery options available.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition resulting from diabetes complications. It may cause fluctuating vision, visual distortion, and even blindness if left untreated. Individuals may experience difficulty with depth perception and glare sensitivity.

Strict blood sugar control and routine eye exams are necessary for diabetic retinopathy prevention. Treatment may include laser therapy to seal leaking blood vessels or anti-VEGF injections to reduce swelling.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

RP results in progressive peripheral vision loss, leading to challenges in detecting obstacles and pedestrians. Night blindness is a symptom, complicating driving in low-light situations.

There is currently no cure for RP. Vitamin A supplements and low-vision aids may potentially slow the retinitis pigmentosa progression.

Corneal Dystrophies

Corneal dystrophies like Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy or corneal scarring also affect driving. The poor optical quality of the cornea contributes to light scattering and halos around light sources.

Depending on the type and severity of the corneal dystrophy, treatment may include eye drops or ointments, as well as corneal transplantation surgery.

Blindness (Legal Blindness)

In the context of driving, legal blindness refers to a level of visual impairment that prohibits an individual from meeting the minimum visual requirements to obtain a driver's license.

Stroke and Neurological Disorders

Strokes and some neurological conditions trigger visual field defects, double vision, and low visual processing speed, affecting driver performance.

The eye problems triggered by neurological disorders demand a personalized approach. Consult your ophthalmologist to find the best treatment options to lower the negative effects on driving.

what eye conditions affect driving and stop you from driving safe

Why Driving with These Eye Conditions Is Unsafe?

1. Poor Visual Acuity

Eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration lead to blurry or distorted vision. If you have them, chances are you can't see clearly and assess road conditions with accuracy. So even if you are the best driver out there, these eye problems make you less reliable on the road.

Poor visual acuity also becomes a problem when the driver refuses to or forgets to wear their corrective contact lenses or eyeglasses for myopia (nearsightedness). Even if the diopter is low, better be safe than sorry - don't drive if you don't have your prescription lenses or glasses with you.

2. Low Contrast Sensitivity and Glare

We associate glare sensitivity and low contrast sensitivity with cataracts, retinal degeneration problems, retinitis pigmentosa and corneal dystrophies. These eye disorders diminish the ability to distinguish objects against varying backgrounds. So it becomes difficult to recognize pedestrians, cyclists, or road signs.

Drivers with astigmatism have a hard time driving at night for the exact same reason - glare. So if you have astigmatism, wear your prescription glasses when driving, especially after dark. Otherwise, you unintentionally become a danger to other people on the road.

3. Impaired Depth Perception

Conditions like cataracts and untreated strabismus affect depth perception and driving gets challenging. It happens because drivers fail to judge distances accurately. Which is key for safe maneuvering and avoiding collisions.

4. Limited Peripheral Vision

Glaucoma-induced tunnel vision compromises the driver's awareness of their surroundings. Optic neuritis or ischemic optic neuropathy may lead to peripheral vision loss as well, along with blurred vision or blind spots. Drivers with retinal detachment may also experience peripheral vision loss, depending on the location and extent of the detachment.

People with these eye problems have less awareness about surrounding vehicles and obstacles. Thus, substantially increasing the likelihood of side-impact accidents on the road.

5. Night Blindness

Night blindness, also known as nyctalopia, is usually a sign of retinitis pigmentosa and cataracts, but can affect people with nearsightedness (myopia), glaucoma and macular degeneration. It impairs driving abilities and stops you from driving during nighttime or twilight hours. That's due to struggle to see clearly in low-light settings and prolonged reaction times.

Delayed reaction times raises the risk of road accidents, in situations requiring quick decisions - sudden stops or evasive maneuvers. At the same time, the poor visibility during night time hinders the driver's ability to detect road markings, pedestrians, and obstacles.

In Summary...

While advancements in technology and medical treatments offer hope for many, people should prioritize regular eye check-ups and proactive eye care. By putting vision care first, you will be able to safely and confidently take the wheel.


Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.

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