Driver Knowledge Tests

Can you drive while blind in one eye in Australia?

We’ve covered whether you can drive with bad eyesight, but what about if you go blind in one eye, whether through disease or injury?

Private licence

Private licences are for vehicles which are not driven for hire or reward. Typically this is a private car, motorbike, campervan, van, ute or light truck. A driver must meet the minimum visual acuity of 6/12 or better using both eyes, either with or without glasses or contact lenses. This means that if a person can reach 6/12 with one eye, it is an acceptable level, as long as the horizontal visual field is 110 degrees. The health of the better eye may be tested every two years.

This can be tested by an optometrist or eye specialist. Meeting the level means that a driver is fit to hold a licence, as long as all other criteria are met.

If a person scores just below the required standard or has mitigating factors, an optometrist or ophthalmologist may support a conditional licence. This could have restrictions such as daytime driving only, or corrective lenses must be worn. The factors looked at are:

  • good health
  • normal reaction times
  • good physical coordination
  • spatial awareness
  • good colour perception
  • alertness
  • good rotation of the neck (particularly for drivers with one eye)
  • driving record
  • contrast perception/glare susceptibility

How is eyesight tested?

Drivers must read 5 characters on the 6/12 line from six metres away. More than two errors reading letters on any line is considered a failure to read that line, in which case, corrective lenses will need to be used.

If your sight in your better eye is worse than 6/24, you will not be issued a driver’s licence.

What happens if you go blind in one eye while you have a full, unconditional licence?

You should not drive for at least 3 months after losing the sight in one eye in order to give yourself time to adjust. You may then drive if the vision in your remaining eye meets the standards outlined above and you are cleared to drive.

Commercial licence

Commercial licences include heavy vehicle licences. If your uncorrected eyesight is better than at least 6/9 in your best eye and at least 6/18 in your worst eye, this meets the requirements to hold a full unconditional licence. If you need glasses or contact lenses, your licence will have conditions (i.e. you must wear glasses)

Can you drive a commercial vehicle with one eye?

Generally, you will not be allowed a commercial vehicle licence unless you have two functioning eyes to the minimum standards. However, depending on how much driving you have to do, the vehicle and what type of driving is involved, an optometrist might be able to make a case for you to hold a conditional licence.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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