What is the DMV Vision Test?
A DMV vision test checks your vision to make sure that you are fit to operate a vehicle safely.
Driving with poor vision is unsafe. You can put yourself, your passengers, and other drivers in danger if you cannot see well while driving.
Every state has a DMV vision test you must pass to obtain your driver’s license or renew an expiring one.
What to Expect During a DMV Vision Test
The DMV defers to the eye doctor to do the DMV Vision test. The eye doctor will indicate on a DMV vision form whether or not you have any eye conditions that could be concerning for driving.
A vision examination is simple at the eye doctor.
The test checks whether or not you have common eye conditions, such as the following:1
- Refractive errors. These include myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism (distorted vision)
- Age-related macular degeneration. A deterioration of vision caused by aging
- Cataracts. A condition characterized by clouding of the eye’s lenses
- Diabetic retinopathy (DR). A common symptom of diabetes
- Glaucoma. A serious condition that can damage the optic nerves in the eyes
- Amblyopia. Also known as “lazy eye”
- Strabismus. An imbalance in how the two eyes are positioned
While many people live with a vision condition, it’s important to have corrective lenses or treatments before driving.2 The DMV’s vision screening standard requires it.
How Do You Pass the DMV Vision Test?
More than 4.2 million Americans who are 40 years and older are either legally blind or have low vision (less than 20/40, according to the Snellen Visual Acuity Scale) in the better-seeing eye.1
To pass a DMV vision test, you must pass a series of eyesight checks. These will check your near vision and your distance vision.
Minimum Vision Requirements
To pass a DMV vision test, you need to meet the minimum visual acuity standard on either or both eyes. This can be with or without corrective lenses, like glasses or contact lenses.
Standards vary by state. New York, Florida, and California require 20/40 vision, while New Jersey requires 20/50.3, 4, 5, 6
Some states, like New York, allow you to take a vision test at a local DMV office or submit your vision test results to the DMV.3
If you submit the results of your vision screening, you must do so in one of two ways:3
- Send them electronically via an eye care provider who is enrolled in the DMV Online Vision Registry.
- Send a Vision Test Report by PDF or mail, completed in English by a
- Physician's assistant
- Registered nurse
- Nurse professional
If you are someone with low vision, there are some restrictions.3
For example, if you need telescopic lenses (which are stronger than normal glasses) to pass a vision test, you must send the Eye Test Report for Medical Review Unit form (MV-80L) to the DMV's Medical Review Unit.3
If your eye care professional or a vision specialist indicates that you have impaired vision in low light, you might have a “daylight driving only” restriction put on your driver's license.3
What If You Fail?
You must pass your vision test at the DMV to be able to obtain your license or renew it.
The DMV will schedule a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE) to see if you can compensate for your condition.
You will be able to try again with glasses or contact lenses to correct your vision.
DMV Eye Test Preparation
To prepare for your DMV eye test, make sure that you have an updated prescription if you wear glasses or contacts.
A DMV vision test is just an assessment of your eyesight to ensure that you are safe to drive. The test does not require much preparation, but if you wear prescription glasses or contacts, you should make sure that they’re up to date.
Eye doctors recommend that you have an annual eye exam to keep on top of your eye health.
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