driving with diabetic retinopathy

Driving with Diabetic Retinopathy

As is the case with any eye condition, you need to ensure that you’re fully informed about any potential changes to your vision when it comes to driving. With our roads getting busier, staying safe is the number one priority and a lot of that comes down to your vision and the health of your eyes.
The DVLA diabetes regulations are clear when it comes to the subject of retinopathy:

  • For car or motorbike licence holders, if you have retinopathy in ONE eye then you don’t need to tell the DVLA, providing you meet the visual standards for driving.
  • For car or motorbike licence holders, you must tell the DVLA if you currently have, or previously had, retinopathy in BOTH your eyes. You can do this either online, or by filling in form V1 and posting it to the DVLA.
  • For bus/coach/lorry licence holders, the DVLA must be notified if you have retinopathy in ONE or BOTH of your eyes. Complete form V1V and post to the DVLA.

These regulations are designed to ensure that you and other road users are safe.

Driving with diabetes

Driving with diabetes is perfectly safe, but it does mean that you need to be more aware before you undertake a journey. Make sure you plan ahead before you get behind the wheel to ensure that you can complete your journey safely. For more information on driving with diabetes in general, visit the Diabetes UK website.

Loss in your field of vision

When driving, it’s vital that you have an uninterrupted field of vision. If you’re experiencing any dark or shadowy patches in your vision then you need to consult an optometrist as soon as possible. Retinopathy can cause areas of your vision to become blurry or dark and patchy.

The DVLA have strict diabetes regulations to make sure that everyone is safe on the roads. If you have a significant visual defect then it’s possible that you won’t be allowed to drive. In summary, a defect greater than 3 adjacent missing points means that you’re unsafe to drive. There can be exceptions to this however, such as if your retinopathy has stabilised, but every individual case must be discussed with the DVLA before any agreement is made.


Experiencing strong glare from the sun or from the headlights of other cars can be a common problem when driving with retinopathy. Usually, when light hits the retina it’s absorbed but, with any retinal damage, this can cause multiple reflections inside the eye, thus resulting in glare. If you’re experiencing minor glare, wearing tinted glasses or sunglasses will help to reduce it. Check out our range of sunglasses to find the perfect pair to protect your eyes.

In some cases, if you’ve had severe retinopathy which required laser eye treatment then glare could become a serious problem for you. If this is the case, speak to one of our optometrists and they will be able to advise you on the safest next steps to take when it comes to driving after laser eye surgery.

Reduced vision at night

If you’ve had laser eye surgery as a result of retinopathy then you may experience a reduction in your ability to drive at night. This is common in people who have undergone laser eye treatment and means that often you’re still able to drive, but there may be restrictions put in place on the times you can do so. Driving after laser eye surgery often requires an eye examination, but if you notice any changes post-surgery that weren’t noted in your initial assessment then make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible.

Contact Us Today

The most important thing to remember if you have diabetes and/or retinopathy is that if you experience any problems whilst you’re driving, pull over at the soonest available safe point and come to a stop. If you’ve noticed a change in your vision, or have been diagnosed with diabetes and need your vision tested, get in touch with our team and they’ll be happy to book you in for an appointment.