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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Legal to Drive with One Eye?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

You start losing your sight or vision in one eye, so you have it checked. Then, your ophthalmologist suggests you wear glasses, and your vision improves. Now, you can read your favorite books, watch movies, play video games, or drive to wherever you want to go.

After some time, your peripheral vision starts to change again because of an infection. Let's say you consult with a vision specialist, and the infection gets better. But imagine if you totally lose your sight in only one eye. That’s a terrible and traumatic experience one can ever have as you might no longer be able to read the novels from your favorite best-selling authors, binge-watch thriller movies on popular streaming platforms, or play an online game.

What’s worse, you might not go on a ride whenever you like. That can be downright frustrating and depressing. But can you still drive without violating any state law or regulation? What to do when you lose your vision? This guide has got your back. Read on for more details!

Laws on driving with one eye

Does Iowa Allow Driving with Vision in Only One Eye?

Like other states in the US, Iowa allows people with vision in only one eye to drive. But there are requirements to meet and follow. Drivers should prove that they have peripheral vision through a physician’s authorization.

Alternatively, taking an eye exam is more than recommended. A rear vision mirror on your blind side should also be set up. Outside mirrors on each side of your car is also a superb choice. In some cases, driving restrictions may be put on one’s license according to daylight hours, speed, area, and other factors.

What is Monocular Vision?

Losing vision in one eye is commonly called monocular vision. That means you will lose a part of your field view and may have trouble with depth perception. This may lead to problems judging your distance from moving objects or even pouring your favorite beverage into a cup.

An infection of the eye is the most common risk factor. Early signs of eye infection are itchiness, discomfort, light sensitivity, burning sensation, painful lump, and irritation.

Other risk factors of monocular vision include retinoblastoma (cancer that starts in the retina), ocular melanoma (a rare form of eye cancer), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, end-stage eye diseases, anophthalmia, and other developmental conditions.

Is It Safe to Drive Once You are Diagnosed with Monocular Vision?

Driving safely will be hard once you're diagnosed with a visual impairment like retinitis pigmentosa or monocular vision. You may lose your ability to judge distances accurately, have enough depth perception, and track moving objects.

The lack of depth perception, for example, can make it challenging for drivers to judge how far a motor vehicle is from another. This also makes parking even more difficult than one has ever imagined.

Activities You Cannot Enjoy When You Lose Your Sight/Vision in One Eye

Admit it or not, a vision condition can ruin your life, even if it is in just one eye. Your life would change worse than you have thought. Your favorite hobby, like driving, is something you may need to quit. You cannot travel to top destinations on your bucket list for a while.

Aside from driving, you may take a month of leave from work as it may be overwhelming on your part. Even preparing documents and taking the stairs would be a headache.

Losing sight in one eye

What to Do When You Lose Sight/Vision in One Eye?

You probably feel hopeless when your vision in one eye fades away. Maybe, you suffer from depression and lock yourself in a room. That’s normal and part of the process. Also, remember that you still have at least one eye left.

But what if there’s still a chance you can bring back your vision and the ability to drive? Here’s what you should do when your sight in your right or left eye starts to blur because of a trauma or infection:

Consult an Eye Care Specialist

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 93 million adults in the US are at high risk for a medical condition like an impaired night vision ability. What’s surprising is that only half consulted an eye specialist in the past years.

The cost is one of the reasons these patients are unable to receive the best care, including corrective lenses and telescopic lenses.

If your sight starts to decline and change, talk to an experienced, competent, and licensed vision specialist to use corrective lenses. Remember that every second matters. So, in the event of trauma to your functioning eye, do not hesitate to give a vision specialist a call to avoid any severe complications.

Take a Break

Every eye care specialist is trained and committed to providing the best medical service to patients. But when the damage to diabetic retinopathy is at an advanced stage, your sight might not be brought back.

At least, you are safe from any danger, remember. But after the operation/surgery for your health condition, you need one to three months to heal.

For that time, make sure not to remove the eye patch, rub your eyes, go to hot tubs, wear makeup, or engage in contact sports. However, it is recommended to avoid any dusty environment during your recovery, do not use the computer or mobile device for a day, keep the remaining eye lubricated, and use UV-blocking sunglasses.

If you experience signs of infection like abnormal discharge, eye pain, redness, and inflammation, contact your physician immediately for another vision test and other needed procedures.

Work with a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist

While taking a break, it is a perfect time to look for a night vision rehabilitation therapist.

Once diagnosed with monocular vision, it is burdensome to be back to your old self. This is where a vision rehabilitation therapist can come to your rescue.

One of their responsibilities is to provide therapy to patients with specific visual requirements to improve their functioning in day-to-day activities.

Vision rehabilitation therapists may train patients with home management skills, computer use, communication skills, and driving ability.

That’s not all! Vision occupational therapists will also develop instructional plans with clients concerning goals and needs. Plus, they may refer patients to counseling, an eye care specialist, and rehabilitation simultaneously.

Train and Practice

You are possibly afraid to drive again. But if you sit on the couch for days, it would be tougher to learn and restore your skill. While recovering from surgery and working with a vision occupational therapist, it’s wise to undergo training on freeway driving again.

The process is challenging. Say bye to that hassle with a therapist. Whether you struggle or fail a couple of times, a vision specialist will guide you from start to finish. Also, do not forget that everything is possible with hard work, patience, and commitment. You have only lost vision in one eye. Remember, it is not the end of your life.

Ways to Drive Safely on the Road

Most people might lose their driver’s license when diagnosed with monocular vision.

But that will not happen when you prove you have enough peripheral vision or horizontal visual field for driving or pass a state vision screening to drive a commercial and non-commercial motor vehicle.

Once you exceeded the minimum vision requirements set by the state, you can keep your driver’s license. That does not mean you can relax, however. You still have responsibilities to maintain while you enjoy your driving privilege.

Below, we present some ways to help you drive safely.

Stay Within the Maximum Speed

Speeding increases the risk of crashing because drivers have less time to react to safety hazards and lose control of their motor vehicles.

Also, expect costly penalties. If you exceed five miles every hour, you have to pay $20 for a speeding ticket.

If your speeding leads to a crash, prepare your wallet. There are other costs to settle, including auto repair and hospitalization bills.

What is the maximum speed, however? In Iowa, highways have a 90 km per hour. Rural interstate highways, on the other hand, permit around 115 km per hour. How about the Urban Interstate limits? It ranges from 90 to 105 km per hour.

Invest in Blind Spot Mirrors

Outside mirrors in your motor vehicle are a helpful tool to check for blind spots to ensure that you're driving safely.

They can allow you to keep track of any vehicle behind your car. They can also help you drive safely and change lanes without putting your life in danger.

What additional mirrors should you invest in and buy? A blind spot mirror will be your best bet. Generally, it can help drivers better view their blind spots, monitor traffic, and monitor children playing around your car with ease.

Increase Your Range of Vision

Although you have monocular vision, do not lose hope as you still have at least one eye. Even if it is tricky to increase the range of your vision, it is possible.

While various things run through your mind, practice side-to-side head movements. It will be complicated, but you will get used to it after some time.

Another thing is to use landmarks, road marks, and other visual cues to guide you to drive safely and view your blind spots efficiently. It is also imperative to make sure you are never driving with one headlight out so that the road is always properly lit for you.

Wearing corrective lenses is also needed when your other eye has visual problems.

Other Things You Should Know

Is regular state vision screening necessary?

Since you only have a vision in just one eye, do not take the other eye for granted. It is critical to undergo a regular vision screening or a vision test to measure your visual acuity, peripheral vision, horizontal visual field depth perception, and other factors.

Do you need a driving test to bring back and enjoy your driving privileges?

Of course! You may lose your peripheral vision and affect your horizontal visual field as a person with monocular vision.

Then, your driving ability will be questioned just like when you are driving with one arm in a sling. So, take a driving test after a few days or months after receiving monocular vision surgery.

But do not take the driving exam without enough practice. You can ask for help from a person close to you to avoid any serious injury.

What are the other restrictions for drivers with monocular vision, low vision, and peripheral vision/field of vision loss?

In most instances, you will no longer enjoy the benefit of an unrestricted license. Most states may put restrictions and requirements on your driver's license. Specifically, you may not be given driving privileges at night.

If you have a commitment at night, let another person with an unrestricted license drive and bring you to your destination.

What are the visual acuity requirements for an average person?

Visual acuity is expressed at 20/20 for an average person. But an individual with vision in one eye does not reach these visual acuity requirements, technically.

If the other eye starts to become blurred, do not wait to lose your sight. Visit the right specialist for you to undergo your monthly or annual vision screening.

Like the typical vision test, the eye physician will look into your visual acuity, peripheral vision, the horizontal visual field of vision, or sight, in other words.

Then, suppose there is another problem with the other eye. In that case, these professionals will try everything to ensure the best-corrected visual acuity you deserve.

They may prescribe corrective lenses, wide-angle contact lenses, telescopic lenses, and other possible services!

How much does the best-corrected visual acuity services cost?

The cost of the best-corrected visual acuity services depends on the type of lens the doctor prescribes.

The rate of contact lenses may range from $30 to $40 per box. Telescopic lenses, on the other hand, may cause a dent in your savings account. Yes, telescopic lenses are expensive but very effective.

Which is better? If you are on a budget, the typical contact lenses will be your best bet. But they may not be ideal when your sight problem is in an advanced stage.

What are the benefits of being insured?

Any eye treatments for lower or higher visual acuity are costly, from corrective lenses for peripheral vision loss/low vision/poor visual acuity to surgeries.

This is where insurance coverage can help along with an injury claim. If you are not insured yet, visit and talk to a reputable insurance company now.

What is the danger of uncorrected visual acuity?

If there is something wrong with your visual acuity, do not leave it untreated for months and years to avoid any accident on the road and improve your field of vision without an accident claim.

The use of corrective lenses is the most common treatment for patients with poor visual acuity and field of vision.

But consult an experienced specialist to receive and use corrective lenses that best suits your unique visual acuity.

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