How to pass eye test for driver’s license in South Africa?

To pass eye test for a driver’s license in South Africa, your visual acuity and field of vision (visual field) are two of the most important factors for driving safely on the road.

This is why an eye test is so important when applying for your learner’s or driver’s licence. The eye test uses the Snellen chart which consists of several rows starting with larger alphabets from the top and gradually decreasing in size towards the bottom.

To qualify for a car driver’s licence in South Africa, you need to meet the minimum eyesight standard according to the Snellen rating. The minimum is a visual acuity of 6/12 (20/40) for each eye and a visual field of 120 degrees is needed to safely operate a vehicle. If you need prescription lenses to pass this eye test then this must be declared on your driver’s licence.

Night-time driving and glare

Driving in the dark requires you to focus and concentrate a lot more than when driving in daylight. Naturally, your visibility is significantly lower, but there is also the added challenge of glare from streetlights and oncoming headlights. Glare in your eyes can be temporarily blinding and put you in danger of a collision.

While glaring headlights can happen to all drivers at night, seeing halos or starbursts around lights could be due to other eyesight issues of varying levels of severity. This can range from something as simple as an incorrect lens prescription to a condition as serious as a cataract. If you’re required to drive regularly at night and are experiencing symptoms, it’s worth having your vision checked and corrected as soon as possible.

In the meantime, take extra measures by improving visibility for night driving:

  • Ensure windows and both windshields are thoroughly cleaned inside and out.
  • Keep your headlamps and clean to ensure proper lighting on the road ahead.
  • Get your headlamps checked with your regular vehicle service to ensure bulbs are in proper working order.

There are two outcomes if you fail your eye test at the traffic department and have a screening done

at your optometrist:

1. If you fail the optometrist screening and a full eye exam is advised: 

During the test it will reveal that you might need spectacles for driving. This is not the end of the world, as it would help you to have better vision on the road. It would also help your depth perception and make it easier to judge distances. You will then be issued with a certificate and a prescription for spectacles which you should take to the traffic department. They will issue your licence, valid for driving with spectacles.

2. Most people pass the screening at their optometrist easily. We then issue you with a certificate which can be presented at the traffic department to issue your licence without any restrictions.

What I have also learned is, some of the traffic departments are open over weekends. I went at around 11 am on a Saturday and the process was quick and seamless.

Keep up to date with your driver’s licence don’t let it expire!!!

Vision for safe driving doesn’t start and end with a visual acuity test. As a driver, any compromise on your vision will affect your reaction time, depth perception, peripheral vision, and night time vision. This means ensuring your rear view mirrors are properly adjusted, your windscreen is clear, there are minimal distractions in your view, and not driving under the influence of any substances that may affect your senses, particularly your eyesight.