Nearsight and short sight are both terms for myopia, a very common cause of blurry vision. Being short-sighted means that you can see things clearly close-up, but things in the distance are out of focus. So you’d be fine reading a book or scrolling through your phone, but watching TV, looking across the room and even driving is more tricky.

This happens because people with myopia essentially have an eye shape that is too long. So when light comes into the eye, it focuses before it can reach the retina, which causes blurry vision. 

Many short-sighted people will need to wear glasses when they’re driving in order to keep themselves, and those around them, safe on the roads. It’s important to be able to clearly read road signs and look out for hazards as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Here, we’ll go through the government eyesight standards and whether you might need to wear glasses for driving.

What does the DVLA say?

To drive a car safely, you must be able to read a car numberplate (made after 1 September 2001) from 20 metres, whether that’s with or without glasses or contact lenses. You also need to have an adequate field of vision. Your optician will be able to determine both of these things during an eye test and will let you know if you need glasses for driving, or if there is any reason why you might not be safe to drive.

How do I know if I need to wear glasses for driving?

Your optician will have told you that you’re short-sighted after an eye test. They’ll be able to assess the extent of your myopia and would tell you if you need to wear glasses for driving. 

When you start learning to drive, your instructor will have made sure that you can carry out the eyesight requirements. You’ll also have to do this before you take your test.

What kind of distance glasses do I need for driving?

This all depends on your vision requirements and your lifestyle. In general, there are three types of lenses: single-vision, bifocals and varifocals. Your optician will be able to recommend the best option for you.

Single vision

Most short-sighted people will wear this type of lens to start with. As the name suggests, it means that there is just one prescription that covers the whole lens to correct your vision. 

Learn more about Single vision


You’re more likely to wear bifocals if you’re over the age of 40, when natural changes to the eye mean that you need some help with your close-up vision as well as distance. Bifocals have two different lens strengths in them: one for close up and one for far away.

Learn more about Bifocals


When you need help with close up vision and as well as distance, varifocals could help. Varifocal lenses work by changing power from the top to the bottom of the lens. Moving your eyes up and down the lens will give you clear vision for distance, near and in between. So you'll be able to see the road ahead of you, as well as the speedometer.

Learn more about Varifocals

SuperDrive varifocals

Specifically designed for driving, our new SuperDrive varifocals are another option for varifocal wearers. The difference is that they have extra wide zones for distance and middle-distance so that you have a clear, wide view of the road as well as keeping your wing mirrors and satnav in focus.

Learn more about SuperDrive

In summary

If you’re short-sighted, it’s best to do what your optician recommends when it comes to driving. Your optician is pretty up to speed on the levels you need to meet the legal standards for safe driving and they’ll be able to recommend the best option for you. 

So it’s important that you see them regularly(once every two years) so they can make sure you’re seeing clearly and that your eyes are happy and healthy. If it’s been a while since you last had one, or you think your vision has changed, you can book an appointment here with one of our experts.