Drivers License vision screening - How does it work ?

Press release  14 May 2014 - South African Optometric Association 

Driver licence vision screening.

Many South Africans see their 5 yearly vision screening at the traffic department as the bench mark of eye care.

Legislation states (Regulation 102) that any person who is a valid license holder should have specific visual requirements. These requirements differ for different license codes.

These visual requirements consist of the following:

  • Visual Acuity testing: This is an exam that determines how well you can see an object and the underlying details from a specific distance.
  • Visual field testing: This is an eye examination that can detect dysfunction in central and peripheral vision which may be caused by various medical conditions such as glaucoma, stroke, brain tumours or other neurological deficits.

Should you fail this screening at the department of transport, they will refer you to your optometrist for further testing and he or she will fill out an SAOA eye sense certificate. This certificate cannot be rejected by the department of transport.

Should you wish to take an eye sense certificate as precaution, you can obtain a certificate from your optometrist prior to your visit to the department of transport’s testing units. They will however conduct their own screening before accepting the certificate. The objective of a department of transport screening is to establish the (bare) MINIMAL visual requirements for driving.

Visual care is much more than a 5 yearly screening at the department of transport.

A biennial comprehensive eye test is recommended for adults.

The comprehensive eye tests consists of:

  • A Clarity of vision evaluation and correcting vision to the maximum optical clarity with glasses and or contact lenses.
  • A full evaluation of the eye structures to be able to detect if there is diseases in the eyes as most eye diseases come with little or no warning.
  • The ability of the eyes to focus accurately and effectively needs to be evaluated in depth and even more so after 40 years of age.
  • The muscle strength and the ability of eye muscles to work as a team is very important to evaluate especially with people with clear vision but do not have comfortable vision.
  • Tests also needs to be conducted to evaluate if the brain is able to process the individual images in a person’s right and left into a clear 3 D image.

To rely on the traffic department visual screening system to detect possible visual problems is an irresponsible decision that the members of the public should never consider. The minimal screening tests is not sufficient to detect major lurking eye conditions nor is the department of transport’s staff trained to be able to give advice or test for possible visual conditions.