Can you drive wearing reading glasses?

Can you drive wearing reading glasses?

Tony Brooks

Can you drive wearing reading glasses? The short answer is no. 

Reading glasses are designed to correct for presbyopia, which is a big word for when the eye cannot focus properly on near objects.

Reading glasses (readers) are designed to give clarity to objects at a maximum distance of around one metre, or 3 feet. This corresponds to roughly an arm’s length, or the (greatest) distance at which you would hold a book, a phone or a menu away from your face. 

Driving involves focusing on objects at a distance greater than one metre, e.g road signs, other cars, etc, therefore reading glasses are not recommended for use when driving. 

The UK Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA), sets out its driving eyesight rules here: 

Essentially, they say that you need to be able to read a number plate at 20m in order to pass the eyesight part of the test. Note though, that different (higher) standards of vision are required for UK lorry and bus drivers, in order to pass the driving eyesight test. 


If you want to know more, here’s is a summary of what the DVLA say about eyesight rules on their website: 

“You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the standards of vision for driving. You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye. This doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards.


At the start of your practical driving test you have to correctly read a number plate on a parked vehicle. If you can’t, you’ll fail your driving test and the test won’t continue. DVLA will be told and your licence will be revoked. When you reapply for your driving licence, DVLA will ask you to have an eyesight test with DVSA. This will be at a driving test centre. If you’re successful, you’ll still have to pass the DVSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.”

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