Bioptics are not currently acceptable for driving in GB. Those needing to use bioptic devices to meet the eyesight standard for driving are doing so without DVLA’s knowledge or consent. This means their licences may be invalid and there could be serious insurance implications.
The current standard for visual acuity for car and motorcycle drivers is the ability to read a car number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the number plate displays the narrower font. Drivers must wear spectacles or corrective lenses whilst driving if these are needed to allow them to meet the legal standard, but this does not include the use of bioptic devices.
In addition to meeting the standard for visual acuity, drivers must also have a field of vision of at least 120° other than in exceptional cases when adaptation to a permanent loss of visual field can be demonstrated and has been approved by DVLA. Bioptic devices can affect the field of vision to the extent that this field standard cannot be met.
The issue of bioptic devices and driving has been considered at meetings of the Secretary of State’s Honorary medical advisory panel on driving and visual disorders. Whilst understanding the desire to enhance independent mobility in people with reduced visual ability, the panel’s main concern is for road safety, with a responsibility both to road users and pedestrians. The panel felt it was important to seek the views and experience of this aid to vision in relation to driving from other European member states and elsewhere. It would be inappropriate for a single Member State to make a unilateral decision without consulting closely with other member states and examining in detail the clinical evidence that was available.