Passing a Driver’s License Eye Exam: What You Need to Know

I think we can all agree, but taking a driver’s eye exam is not a pleasant experience. You can get nervous or stressed out beforehand, and it can severely impact your overall performance.So to help you take the stress off, you can make a few simple changes and learn how to pass a driver’s license eye exam with flying colors.

Now, you might be wondering how on earth do you pull it off? Well, if you want to find out — keep on reading.

Passing a driver's license eye exam.

DMV Vision Requirements

Now, all 50 states in the U.S., along with the District of Columbia, have their own specific vision requirements. However, most often, they’ll do a test based on the Snellen Visual Acuity Scale.

For example, in California, you need to have at least 20/70 vision, and if you have 20/200, you won’t be eligible to drive. On the other hand, Kentucky’s DMV will let you drive with 20/200 vision, provided that you wear corrective lenses.

So even though all tests are different, most states require you to have at least 20/40 vision in both eyes, with or without corrective lenses. Also, once you reach the age of 70 or 75, you’ll have to retake the eye exam every three to four years.

But if you want to know what your state’s DMV requirements are, you can either go to their official website or check out this link for more information.

Vision Restrictions

If, during the exam, the doctor concludes that you have to wear corrective lenses to pass the test, they’ll put a “B” restriction on your driver’s license or learner’s permit. The two most common restrictions are Telescopic Lenses and Daylight Driving Only.

Telescopic lenses are much more potent than regular contact lenses or eyeglasses. If you have this restriction, you’ll have to fill out the Eye Test Report for Medical Review Unit form.

Once you’ve done that, you have to send it to the DMV’s Medical Review Unit, and they’ll tell you how to proceed. Now, you can get this restriction lifted if you correct your vision in the meantime. So if you don’t need to wear telescopic lenses anymore, send an MV-80L form to your local DMV.

You’ll get a Daylight Driving Only restriction if the eye care professional concludes that your night vision is impaired.

Removing the Restrictions

There are three ways you can remove your restrictions:

  • At the DMV office in person
  • By mail
  • Online

If you can, I recommend going directly to the DMV office and doing an eye test there. It’s the easiest route, and once you’ve submitted the necessary forms, they’ll remove your restriction right away.

However, if you want to do it by mail, you have to obtain proof that you no longer need telescopic or corrective lenses and order a replacement document.

For online submissions, your eye care professional has to be enrolled in the DMV Online Vision Registry. Then, they’ll notify the DMV that you don’t need lenses anymore, and your restriction will be immediately lifted.

Types of Eye Exams

Most eye tests start with the eye care professional asking you for your medical history. For your DMV exam, one of these professionals has to perform it:

  • A physician or a physician’s assistant
  • Optician
  • Optometrist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • A registered nurse or nurse professional

Depending on the state where you’re taking the exam, you can expect to take either of these:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Visual field test
  • Color vision testing
  • Depth perception test

Visual Acuity Test

For the visual acuity part, the eye care professional will have you stand a few feet back from a board or look through a machine. Then, you’ll have to identify each letter or number that they’re pointing to while having one eye covered. Once you’ve done that, they’ll cover the other eye and repeat the test.

Visual Field Test

You can also get a field test that will measure your perimetry. In essence, it will examine what you can see on the left and right side, without moving your eyes.

The most basic type of visual field exam is the confrontation test. A professional will cover one eye and ask you to look straight ahead. Then, they’ll tell you to notify them as soon as you see their hand in the corner of your eye.

Color Vision Testing

If you’re applying for a heavy vehicle license, you might need to do color vision testing. Even though they won’t test true color perception, you do have to recognize and distinguish between green, amber, and red.

Depth Perception

As part of your eye exam, a couple of states in the U.S., like West Virginia and Mississippi, will test your depth perception. They can do so by showing you an image of a few street signs, seemingly floating in open space. Your job is to discern which street sign is closest to you.

How to Pass the Eye Exam

Now, there are no hacks that’ll make you pass your eye exam. I also don’t recommend guessing or memorizing the charts because your eye care professional will see right through it. Not only that, but if you drive with impaired vision, you can seriously hurt or even kill someone on the road.

Instead, here are three things you can do to make your test go more smoothly.

Schedule an Eye Exam Beforehand

First, go to an eye care professional that you like and check your vision there first. If you can, try to find one that’s enrolled in the DMV Online Vision Registry. In addition to those four exams I mentioned, they can also do some further testing to see how good your eyesight is. Also, if you have any problems, the professionals will tell you the best ways to correct your vision.

Drink Plenty of Water

At least one week before your eye exam, start drinking plenty of water and hydrating yourself. Now, there’s no exact answer to how much water you should be drinking, as it’ll depend on your gender, age, weight, and more factors.

However, the best rule of thumb is to drink water when you’re thirsty or around eight 8-ounce glasses a day. By doing so, you’ll prevent your eyes from quickly drying out, and they won’t get tired or strained as fast.

But if you haven’t had time to hydrate yourself during the week, you can try out some eye drops. They’ll help moisturize your eyes, and you can buy them over-the-counter at any drugstore.

Remember to Blink

Now, I know how this sounds, but you wouldn’t believe how many people forget to blink when taking their eye exams. When you don’t blink, the tension around your eyes increases, and it can reduce your overall vision, as well as strain your eyes.

On the other hand, blinking helps with eye lubrication, and you’ll be able to see more clearly. However, don’t squeeze your eyes shut during the exam, as that can have the opposite effect.

What Happens If You Fail the Eye Exam?

Don’t worry; even if you fail your eye exam, it’s not the end of the world. Simply schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist and follow their advice. Once you’re fitted with glasses or lenses, go back to the DMV and ask to retake the test.

If you also need some help with taking your driving exam online, I might be able to help there too. By following this link, you’ll learn more about how to prepare for the test and what to expect.

Final Thoughts

The final piece of advice I can give you for passing your eye exam is not to stress yourself out too much. All of these tests are pretty straightforward and don’t require any advance prep.

Even if you fail, you’ll be able to retake it as soon as you correct your vision. So stay hydrated, blink, and always follow the advice of your eye care professional.



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