Vision Changes? An OT Driver Rehabilitation Specialist May Help!

Vision Changes? An OT Driver Rehabilitation Specialist May Help!

How to stay safe on the road if you have eyesight issues

When we drive, we are constantly relying on vision as our primary sense to keep us safe. Therefore, if we have issues with our eyes or pre-existing conditions which affect eyesight, we are bound to find it harder to stay safe when traveling. But that doesn’t mean anyone with eyesight issues is inherently more dangerous than someone with perfect vision. At least, not if they take the right precautions.


human with glasses

Let’s take a look at some options for maximizing your vision for driving.

1. Get your eyes tested regularly 

It’s no secret that the number one thing you can do to maintain your eye health is to get regular checkups. It’s recommended to see an optometrist every one-two years. This gives a trained professional the chance to assess your eyes, work out if your prescription has changed, and make suggestions accordingly to help you see better. 

Getting your eyes checked after you have had a medical event, especially one involving the brain (strong, brain injury, concussion) can be monumentally important (Farishta & Farivar, 2022).

About 90% of the decisions you make while driving are based on what you see. Good vision is critical to gather all of the information needed to make accurate, timely decisions before reacting to your environment. Therefore, if you have experienced an injury or illness impacting your vision, make sure you visit your eye care specialist prior to returning to driving.

In addition, working with an OT Driver Rehabilitation Specialist can greatly help to determine fitness to drive prior to returning to driving. Learn more about how an OT DRS can help you here.

Unfortunately, a recent study reported that as many as 38% of Americans don’t have an optometrist, with less than half having their eyes checked every year. But eyesight issues can develop slowly, so if you want to keep your eyesight from degenerating too quickly, regular eye testing should be bumped up on your health priority list. 


2. Wear corrective lenses

Wearing glasses can be irritating, and it can be tempting to avoid doing so. For some of us, they cramp our style, and can even leave us feeling unconfident in our bodies. But when the safety of yourself and others is at stake, it’s vital to overlook this perceived fashion faux pas if you’re prescribed to wear glasses.

If you’re someone who needs to wear corrective lenses, failing to do so can actually lead to a worsening of your condition. In this digital age, it’s also important to keep in mind that an increase in screen time may be linked to more rapid degeneration of our eyesight. The correct lenses can help to reduce glare and eye strain, helping to save your eyes from damage in the long run. 

Many states have laws defining the minimum visual acuity for driving. If you need distance corrective glasses for driving, it is imperative you wear them to meet your state licensing requirements.


3. Take lessons from a driver rehabilitation specialist 

Eyesight changes may have for a range of reasons. For some, it is linked to natural degeneration, while for others is another health-related issue. Common health-related conditions that often impact vision may include diabetes, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, Parkinson’s, concussion, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. 

In these cases, an OT driver rehabilitation specialist may be right for you. This driving professional can help you get back on the road after a health scare, with evaluations and lessons tailored to your individual needs. They’ll be able to coach you on how to safely drive on the road, in spite of the new issues you’re facing. This is seen as one of the most important rehabilitation goals of stroke survivors, with many people prioritizing it as the first thing they need to do to regain their sense of independence.


If you or someone you know has trouble seeing clearly, and it’s affecting their driving, make sure to use this list as a starting point for your road to recovery. 

By taking the correct steps to ensure your and your fellow road users’ safety – something that should be every driver’s top priority – you too can comfortably and confidently drive on the road, even if you don’t have 20/20 vision.



Abbas Farishta R, Farivar R. Montreal Brain Injury Vision Screening Test for General Practitioners. Front Hum Neurosci. 2022 Jul 14;16:858378. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.858378. PMID: 35911590; PMCID: PMC9330036.

Susie Touchinsky

Susie Touchinsky, OTR/L, SCDCM, CDRS is an occupational therapist and certified driver rehabilitation specialist offering decades of experience, knowledge, and professional support for drivers, families, caregivers, and practitioners.