On Discover Sight, I often discuss life with blindness and receive questions about it. This time, I was asked if blind people could drive a car.
To answer that, I did some research and discovered that people with certain levels of vision loss can drive with a restricted license in the US and other parts of the world. But blind and visually impaired people with total vision loss cannot drive.
Let us look at what a restricted driver’s license is. A restricted driver’s license is issued to a person whose regular driver’s license is suspended due to some medical condition, and they must drive under certain guidelines when holding a restricted driver’s license.
In case of visual impairment, Restricted licenses are issued to people who have low vision and can drive a car with that vision. For example, senior citizens gradually lose their vision, and their driver’s license is later updated to a restricted license if they need to drive.
To obtain a restricted driver’s license with visual impairment, they must pass a vision and driving test. The vision must be around the 20/70 point, and they must still have a good field of vision. So, what is a “20-70 vision”? having 20/70 vision means that you must be at 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 70 feet.
People have various levels of vision loss that cannot be corrected with regular glasses or contact lenses. A detailed eye examination is needed to figure out the current state of vision.
Following is the classification of visual impairment dot World Health Organization has defined
When the vision in the better eye with the BEST POSSIBLE glasses correction is:
• 20/30 to 20/60 is considered mild vision loss, or near-normal vision
• 20/70 to 20/160 is considered a moderate visual impairment, or moderate low vision
• 20/200 to 20/400 is considered a severe visual impairment, or severe low vision. In the United States, a person with 20/200 in the BETTER eye is considered legally blind.
• 20/500 to 20/1,000 is considered a profound visual impairment, or profound low vision
• less than 20/1,000 is considered a near-total visual impairment, or near-total blindness
• no light perception is considered a total visual impairment, or total blindness.
There are also levels of vision loss that are based on visual field loss (loss of peripheral vision). In the United States, a person who has a remaining visual field loss of 20 degrees or less is considered legally blind.
What are the legal driving requirements for the blind and visually impaired?
Obtaining a standard driver’s license in the United States typically needs passing a vision test with 20/40 or better.
However, most states allow for some leeway when it comes to the visual requirement for a restricted driver’s license.
Blind and visually impaired can drive with the following exceptions
A restricted driver’s license or permit • Passable vision in one eye and visual impairment in the other eye
Use of visionary aids, such as telescopic lenses
Earlier driving experience and driving training with vision aids
Using driving aids for the visually impaired.
People with low vision can drive using the special low-vision driving aids listed below.
Low-vision glasses with tinted lenses can significantly reduce contrast issues.
Bioptic telescopes Driving Glasses for Macular Degeneration
Read more about bioptic telescopes. Driving Glasses for Macular Degeneration. It is not advisable to drive with severe eye conditions, but on the other hand, it gives freedom of mobility. The ability to drive opens many opportunities for blind and visually impaired people and improves their lives in many aspects.