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Vision Requirements for Renewing Your Driver's License - Bard Optical

Vision Requirements for Renewing Your Driver’s License

Man driving wearing contacts

No one likes waiting in line at the DMV, especially when you’re there for something as time-consuming as a driver’s license renewal.

If you’re old enough to drive, it’s no secret that the Department of Transportation has several minimum requirements for who can and cannot drive.

What you may not know is that there are several different levels of restrictive licenses for those with different severities of ocular disability. These different levels use their own system of checks and balances to restrict the driver to certain road conditions for their safety and the safety of those around them.

There are a few parameters that the Illinois Department of Transportation uses to separate different levels of driving capability. The main two levels being a person’s age with the use of visual and written testing, and ocular acuity with the use of vision exams, and in some cases, doctor referrals.


Age Requirements

Age plays a huge factor in renewing your license. It controls such aspects as how frequently you need to renew your license and what requirements you must meet to do so.

The general rule regarding age is that all initial and renewing drivers are required to pass a vision exam every four-year renewal cycle. However, there are exceptions to this rule with specific scenarios in mind:

  • Those between the ages of 22 and 74 are able to renew their license by mail if they have a clean driving record.
  • Drivers with a clean driving record may forego the driving knowledge test that is mandatory for the renewal of their license every eight years.
  • From age 75 and beyond you may not renew your license by mail, and must be present at a driving facility every 4 years upon completing a successful vision and road test.

These age-dependent rules are set because your eyesight has a tendency to worsen as you age, but also because ocular diseases like cataracts and glaucoma are more likely to form as you age, and can develop to completion well within the four-year timeframe between license renewals.


Vision Strength

As anyone would expect, ocular acuity (aka vision strength) is also taken into account when evaluating your ability to drive.

To make the examination process easier, stipulations are put into place for those with corrective lenses or other ocular inhibitors.

By Illinois standards, to receive an unrestricted license you must have visual acuity of at least 20/40 with a peripheral visual field of at least 140 degrees. Those who don’t meet this standard must either provide a report from their specialist or be issued a restrictive license.

Those with corrective lenses are usually issued a restricted license to the use of their corrective lenses while operating a vehicle.

Those with visual acuity between 20/41 and 20/70 are issued a restrictive license of use during daytime only.

Additionally, if a specialist informs the driving facility that the driver’s vision is in a state of deterioration the driver will be issued a license with periodic visual examinations as the restriction.

While age does not directly count as a vision requirement for receiving a license, age can have a drastic effect on your vision and can affect your driving ability as a lack of ocular acuity can.

Before you head out to renew your license, talk to your eye doctor and schedule an annual exam to make sure your eyes are healthy.

If you are concerned about whether you would pass a driving exam, be open with your concerns to your eye doctor, and let them help you find a solution that gets you safely back on the road.

Downloadable at home vision test