Q. Will I lose my licence because I have glaucoma?
This depends on the amount of vision loss your glaucoma has caused. Whilst licensing requirements vary between states, fitness to drive for a private car licence may require a best corrected visual acuity of 6/12 or better, with both eyes open. In addition there may need to be at least 120 degrees of visual field free of glaucoma defects with at least 10 degrees free of defects above the horizon. If either of these criteria is not met, a restricted licence may still be possible. Your eye health professional can advise you.
Q. I have glaucoma and when driving at night I get halos around the street lights, especially when it is raining. Why does that happen and can I do anything about it?
Glare and halos at night can be from a variety of reasons and may not be related to your glaucoma at all. Other causes could be due to cataract (cloudy lens) or an unstable tear film from having dry irritated eyes. Rarely halos around lights could be due to high pressure in the eye. All of these conditions are best discussed with your treating Ophthalmologist.
Q. I have to renew my licence soon and I have to have an eye test- what tests are done?
Fitness to drive for a private car licence usually requires a best corrected visual acuity of 6/12 or better with both eyes open. Visual acuity is a measure of central vision- the ability to distinguish details and the shape of objects.
In addition there usually needs to be at least 120 degrees of visual field free of glaucoma defects with at least 10 degrees free above the horizon. This is tested with a special visual field test called an Esterman Visual Field which again is undertaken with both eyes open. If either of these criteria is not met, a restricted licence may still be possible after further assessment. Consult your ophthalmologist or optometrist for advice.
The restrictions of licences for larger vehicles and commercial vehicles are generally more stringent. These standards are available via the motor licencing authorities in each State and Territory.
Q. I have lost all vision in one eye, because of glaucoma. Will I still pass an eye test for driving as my good eye has perfect vision?
To drive a private car you only need one eye to drive! You must not drive within three months of an acute loss if vision. Provided you meet the requirements as outlined by the motor licensing authorities, you may still drive.
Q. What do I need to tell the motor registry if I am diagnosed with glaucoma or any other eye condition?
You are obliged to tell the motor licensing authorities if you have an eye condition limiting your vision. You will be given an assessment form that will need to be filled out either by an optometrist or ophthalmologist declaring your suitability to drive.
Q. Can I get glasses with specific driving lenses to help me refocus with near/far vision, reduce glare and/or see better in low light?
There are a new generation of spectacle lenses that can help reduce glare for night driving and address problems of depth perception and visual acuity. New products become available all the time so it is best to discuss options with your optometrist.
Q. Should I wear my glasses for an Esterman visual field test?
The Esterman test is best performed wearing your usual driving glasses. If you do not wear glasses to drive then that is how the test should be performed.
Q. What Esterman Efficiency Score do I need to keep my driving licence
Glaucoma Australia continues to advocate for fair, safe and clear driving standards for people with glaucoma. Holding a drivers licence in Australia does not require a specific Esterman Efficiency Score to be achieved. A number of factors need to be considered by your eye-care practitioner and general practitioner to determine if the status or conditions of your licence should be amended. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can provide you with the details of any changes you may need to make or start planning for in your driving habits.
Find more information about driving with glaucoma in the following two articles:
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