Do I have to tell the DVLA I wear glasses or contact lenses?

Have recently been prescribed glasses (or contact lenses) that the optician ordered you to wear while driving? Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at if you need to also report this change to the DVLA – the government agency that oversees UK driving licences. 

How wearing glasses or contact lenses affects your ability to drive is likely to be unique to your individual case, so you must follow advice from your GP, optician or other medical professional and comply with the decision made by the DVLA about your ability to continue driving.

Additionally, if you are worried about any other medical issues that you believe may impact your ability to drive, you can find a full list of conditions that can affect drivers and what to do next here

Woman wearing glasses while drivingDo you need to tell the DVLA that you have been issued with prescription glasses? (Credit: Cicero7 / Pixabay)

Eyesight issues and driving explained

Virtually all of us will experience a deterioration in our eyesight as we get older. This can be due to natural ageing or conditions such as cataracts.

You may notice it harder to see cars coming towards you, or have difficulty reading signs in good time to act, or find it difficult to focus when looking at the dashboard dial or using mirrors.

If this happens you should visit an optician as soon as possible.

What the law says about eyesight requirements for drivers

To comply with the law you must be able to read a car’s number plate from 20 metres in normal daylight – you can wear glasses or lenses when attempting to do so.

What to do if you fail the minimum eyesight standards for driving?

If you cannot successfully complete the minimum standards mentioned above

However, regardless of the result of this tool, you must follow any instructions regarding reporting your condition that have been issued by a media professional, such as a GP or optician.

Do I need to report that I have been prescribed glasses or contact lenses?

Ultimately, this depends on the condition you have been diagnosed with. The optician will tell you what the problem is, and will likely advise you on the need to report the condition – or even the need to stop driving immediately before a decision from the DVLA.

My glasses are for short-sightedness – also known as myopia – do I need to report it?

If you have been diagnosed with short-sightedness, you will not need to report this to the DVLA unless the optician says you should.

However, you must wear the glasses that you have been prescribed when driving – or you could be prosecuted. Failure to wear glasses could result in a £1,000 fine, or worse if you were involved in an accident caused by failure to wear glasses or contact lenses.

My glasses are for long-sightedness – also known as hyperopia – do I need to report to it?

If you have been prescribed glasses or contact lenses for long-sightedness, you will be required to follow the advice of the medical professional on wearing them while driving.

However, you will not need to report this to the DVLA unless told to do so by the optician.

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What is the 01 code on a driving licence for?

The 01 code under section 12 on the UK driving licence states that glasses are required when driving.

This will apply to certain eyesight conditions that must be reported to the DVLA. It could also refer to when a person has volunteered that they need glasses due to short- or long-sightedness.

If this is on your licence, you must wear glasses or contact lenses at all times while driving.

Do I need to tell the DVLA if I have had corrective laser eye surgery?

This is where a laser is used to redefine the shape of the cornea, which may mean you don't need to wear glasses or contact lenses. In such a case you will not need to let the DVLA know you no longer need to wear glasses.

However, if you have the 01 code under section 12 on your driving licence, you must inform the DVLA that you have had corrective surgery so that it can be removed.

Can I swap my glasses for my sunglasses when driving?

Swapping prescription glasses for sunglasses is not permitted unless they are prescription sunglasses.

You must also ensure that the prescription sunglasses are legal for driving by looking at the tint rating – which ensures they let enough light in.

You should mention to the optician that you intend to use the prescription glasses for driving when purchasing.

How can I check if my condition needs to be reported to the DVLA?

The DVLA has a tool that will help you check if the condition you have been diagnosed with needs to be reported to the DVLA.

By answering a series of questions, the official online tool will help inform you about the need to report your condition to the DVLA.

Does this advice apply to all drivers?

No. Please note, the information on this page is for car drivers only. Different rules apply for drivers of larger vehicles such as lorries and buses.

Please follow instructions given by medical professionals even if they differ from information on this page.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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