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Driving after Cataract Surgery

16 Mar 2016 at 09:17

Good vision is vital for driving but vision is known to deteriorate with age. It can also be further affected by eye disorders, with conditions such as cataracts being most common in older people. RAC Car Insurance has put together a ‘Driving after Cataract Surgery’ guide which details everything drivers need to know about driving safely after cataract surgery.

driving with blurred vision

Reporting medical conditions to the DVLA

All drivers who have been diagnosed with a medical condition that can affect their driving must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Failure to do so can result in drivers being fined up to £1,000 or even prosecution if they are involved in an accident as a result of a condition which they have not reported.

Reporting your cataracts to the DVLA

If you have cataracts in one eye you do not need to tell DVLA, unless you also have a medical condition in the other eye. If you do have a medical condition in the other eye, you must inform the DVLA by filling in a V1 form and sending it to them.

If you have cataracts in both eyes then you do need to tell the DVLA by filling in a V1 form and sending it to them. The address is on the form.

How long after cataract surgery can I drive?

The DVLA states that motorists can return to driving if they can read a number plate 20 metres away with both eyes open. A driver’s vision must also be no worse than 6/12 (decimal 0.5) on the Snellen scale. If you are concerned about your vision you should discuss it with your optician or doctor. You are also allowed to wear glasses or corrective lenses to meet both of those standards.

Approximately 90% of drivers who have cataract surgery will find their vision will return to a sufficient level for them to start driving again, as long as they have no other eye condition. This recovery time varies from patient to patient. For some it can be the next day, but for many, getting back on the road can be delayed for up to four weeks or until they have received new glasses based on a post-surgical eye examination.

If a motorist has had an operation on one eye and their vision is good in the other eye, this process may take less time, but in both cases they will need to be confident doing an emergency stop.

When will I be ready to have my eyesight checked?

There are a number of things drivers should look out for when deciding to have their eyesight checked before heading back out on the road.

Drivers should be:

  1. free from the distracting effect of pain
  2. free from the distracting effect of sedatives or other pain relief medication
  3. checking that any medication they are taking does not fall foul of recent updates to the drug-driving legislation
  4. comfortable in the driving position and able to safely control their car
  5. able to perform an emergency stop comfortably

If drivers’ eyes feel dry after having cataract surgery it is recommended for the next couple of weeks they avoid driving with an open driver’s window, or with the air vents on full and directed at their faces.

Find further information on RAC car insurance or speak to one of our RAC advisers on 0330 159 1019 to get a quote.