I think when many people ask “do I need glasses to drive?” they are really asking “does the DMV require me to wear glasses or contacts while I drive?” Each state has different requirements, but let’s take a look at the requirements for
the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The DMV in Virginia states that you must wear vision correction if your natural vision is 20/40 or worse with both eyes open. In fact, if you took your vision test at the DMV and didn’t pass, they would require your eye doctor to fill out the appropriate form. Or, if you used your glasses/contacts to pass the vision test at the DMV, the requirement to wear vision correction is now on your license.
But, I also like to let patients know while 20/40 vision means the DMV feels you can drive without glasses, 20/40 vision is still not very good vision. 20/40 vision means it will take a person longer to recognize important road signs. 20/40 vision could cause you to squint or focus more attention to recognizing important road signs and thus distract you from other vital tasks involved in driving. A second or two longer spent to see something could be enough of a distraction to cause you to miss dangerous events around you on the road.
So, even if the DMV may say your vision isn’t bad enough to require glasses for driving, I often recommend driving glasses to anyone with less than 20/20 vision. Improving 20/25 or 20/30 vision back to 20/20 with glasses can only serve to improve your visual function while driving and only enhance your chances for safe arrival at your intended destination. Not to mention, additional treatments like polarization for daytime driving or anti-glare lenses for nighttime, can also improve driver safety.