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Vision Requirements for PA Drivers

car key

What are the minimum vision requirements for driving?

So often we are asked “How well do you need to see to drive?”  The vision rules may vary from state to state, so it is important to check the specific requirements for the state where your license was issued.  The information below is an overview for Pennsylvania drivers.  For complete, up-to-date information, please visit Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Visual Acuity 

A visual acuity test is an eye exam that checks how well you see the details of a letter or symbol from a specific distance.  The standard for normal vision is 20/20.   If your vision is measured at 20/40 or 20/60, it means that your vision is worse than 20/20.  With 20/40 vision, you need to be at a distance of 20 feet in order to see what someone with normal vision can see at 40 feet.

  • In order to drive without corrective lenses, like glasses or contacts, you must have 20/70 or better vision during the day. Nighttime driving requires 20/40 or better vision.
  • If you need corrective lenses to reach the vision requirements, you must wear them at all times while driving.

Restricted License

eye chart

  • If your vision can only be corrected to 20/60 you may be able to get a license that restricts you to drive during the day only.
  • If your best vision is between 20/70 and 20/100, you may be eligible for a restricted license that would prohibit driving on freeways and highways.
  • Restricted licensees may need to pass a vision test yearly.

Vision in One Eye Only

People who have only one eye, or have vision in only one eye have additional requirements.  These requirements include 20/40 vision in the good eye.  The vehicle must be equipped with mirrors or cameras that allow the driver to see 200 feet to the rear.

Other Considerations

In order to drive, you must also meet field of vision requirements.  Your horizontal visual field must be 120 degrees wide in order to qualify for a drivers license. Your visual field is measured by how well you see in your peripheral vision, while your eyes are focused forward.

If you drive professionally – like a school bus driver –  the requirements are more stringent.  The field of vision must be 160 degrees, and you must be able to identify colors used in traffic signals and signs: red, green and amber; and you must see 20/40 or better.

Drops or reading glasses?

Woman reading paper

Most everyone has heard of nearsightedness and farsightedness, but, presbyopia isn’t quite as familiar to most people.

Remember nearsighted is when you can’t see in the distance. And, farsighted is when you can’t see up close. Both of these problems are due to the incorrect length of your eye so the image doesn’t land in the correct spot on your retina.

Presbyopia starts when you are about 40 years old.  It is when you have difficulty seeing up close.  What makes it different than farsightedness is the reason for the problem. Presbyopia is because the lens of your eye can no longer focus enough to place the images on the correct spot  of your retina.

Presbyopia develops because of the process of aging. Think of it as farsightedness brought on by aging. The root of the word “presbyopia” actually means “old eyes” in Greek. Everyone gets presbyopia. You can circumvent the need for glasses to focus up close, if you’re nearsighted.  Taking off your glasses “resets” your eyes to near and you don’t need to focus.

Refractive surgery such as LASIK effectively corrects nearsightedness and farsightedness by reshaping the cornea.  It does not treat the lens, and in turn doesn’t correct presbyopia. LASIK surgery can help presbyopia vision by leaving a small amount of nearsightedness, similar to the trick of a nearsighted person taking off their glasses to read.

Eye drops instead of reading glasses?

Recently two kinds of eye drops are being tested to enter the market to help presbyopia. If these drops pass clinical trials patients may be reaching for drops instead of reading glasses. As with any type of treatment or medication there are pluses and minuses.  Not needing glasses to read is the obvious plus.

The first type of drop being tested is called a miotic drop. It makes the size of the pupil smaller creating a “pinhole effect.” This effect limits the out-of-focus light entering the eye, making both near and far things clearer. Headaches, limited night vision and a decrease in contrast have been reported as side effects. The drops take effect  30 minutes after administration and last four to seven hours.

The second type of drop softens the lens of the eye. As the lens becomes more flexible, as it was in the younger eye, it becomes easier to focus up close again. The drop won’t return the lens back to its peak at eighteen years of age, but it will turn the clock back ten years. The drops must be taken over a period of days or weeks to achieve results.

We’ll keep you posted

Neither of these drops are available to the general public at this time. Neither drop appear to be the “magic bullet”  in treating presbyopia. Your eye doctor will likely need to determine which, if  any, is correct for you.

Read more about LASIK & Presbyopia  

 

 

 

What is an Astigmatism?

Do you have an astigmatism?

The word might sound scary, but an astigmatism is nothing to be afraid of!  It is a common vision condition which most commonly occurs when the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is irregularly shaped.

If you have an astigmatism, the curve of your cornea is shaped more like a football, instead of round like a basketball.  This irregular curvature causes vision to be blurry, because your eye cannot focus light to a single sharp point on the retina.  Instead, light hits the retina in multiple places, so images are blurred.

You may have been born with astigmatism.  You could have inherited it from your parents.   It can decrease or increase over time. Astigmatism often occurs along with with nearsightedness, or farsightedness.

How is astigmatism measured?

Astigmatism refraction

Testing for astigmatism may may include:

  • Visual acuity-When you read letters on a distance chart, you are measuring your visual acuity. The result is given in two numbers, like 20/40.  The first number is the number of feet from the eye chart. The bottom number shows the smallest size line you can read.  If you have 20/40 vision, you would have to be within 20 feet of the chart to see what someone with normal vision could see at 40 feet.
  • Topography– This device measures the topography of the surface of the cornea.  As you might guess, this measurement is important for a good fit for contact lenses.
  • Refraction– You might know this as the “Better 1 or Better 2 test”.  While you look through an instrument called a phoropter, we rotate through a series of lenses.  Based on your answers, the power is then refined to determine the lenses for the clearest vision. This power can be determined with machines but patient input remains integral in determining vision needs.

How is Astigmatism Corrected?

A comprehensive eye exam will measure the correction or power needed for your vision, which may include a prescription to correct your astigmatism.  Eyeglasses or contact lenses will help you to focus and to see more clearly.

  • Eyeglasses. Astigmatism can be treated with a pair of prescription eyeglasses.  The lens will have a prescription that compensates for the astigmatism. This prescription provides additional power in specific parts of the lens.  The correction power lies along a specific axis.
  • Contact lenses.  Contact lenses may provide clearer vision and a wider field of view.  A special toric soft contact lens offers astigmatism correction for many patients. This contact lens is weighted so that it maintains the correct axis when worn. Another contact lens option is a rigid gas-permeable (RGP or “hard”) contact lenses to help reshape the cornea decreasing the astigmatism.
  • Laser and other refractive surgery procedures. LASIK or PRK surgery can correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea.  With LASIK using Custom-Vue Wavescan, your  treatment is tailored to your eyes.  Dr. Moran has great success treating patients with astigmatism.

Let us help you achieve your best vision.  Schedule an appointment to correct your vision.  Click here for more information on LASIK

What does this Test Do? Pinhole Test

Why do I see better when I look through the pinhole?

When we check your vision, we test each eye individually using an occluder.

The occluder is a simple device that covers one eye at a time.  If your vision isn’t clear, we move the pinholes into place and have you look at the eye chart again. If your vision improves with the pinholes, it means that your vision may be corrected with glasses or contacts.

The pinhole is a simple way to focus light.  When you look through this tiny hole, light enters through the center of the lens of the eye only. If you can read the 20/20 line when looking through the pinholes, you should be able to see 20/20 with the correct prescription.  Click to learn more about 20/20 vision

Ever wonder why squinting helps you to see better?  It’s the same principle as looking through the pinholes.  By squinting, you reduce the focusing area, which makes things appear sharper.

If your vision does not improve when you look through the pinhole, there may be other factors that affect your vision.  The other issues that could be affecting your vision may include cataracts or problems with your retina.  Lack of vision improvement with this simple test can be the first step in diagnosing, and correcting your vision problems.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does this Test Do? Part 1 – AutoRefractor

What is the first test we do when you come into the office for a complete vision exam?

Autorefractor measures vision.

The Autorefractor measures your prescription

We take a measurement of your vision with the AutoRefractor.

Image used for measuring your prescription

Focus on the balloon!

When you take a seat at the autorefractor, we ask you to look into the device.  You will see a blurry hot air balloon at the end of a long straight road. As the balloon comes into focus, we measure your prescription.

We ask you to focus on the image (balloon) to keep your eye centered while we take measurements.  It only takes just a few seconds to measure using an autorefractor.  The balloon is at the center of the image, which aligns your eye perfectly for the test. 

When we use this machine, nothing touches your eye, and there is no puff of air!

The autorefractor provides an objective measurement of a person’s refractive error and prescription for glasses or contact lenses.  The device measures how light is changed as it enters your eye.

Calculating your glasses prescription

Better 1 or Better 2?

We don’t use the numbers from the device to order your prescription glasses or contacts. The autorefractor is just part of the process.  The information from the autorefractor is used as a starting point to determine your best prescription.  We take these numbers and dial them into the phoropter.

Here is where your opinion comes in.  As we cycle through lenses, we ask, “Is it Better 1 or Better 2?”  Your responses help us to pinpoint your best vision.  When we show you different choices, we aren’t trying to trick you!  We are showing you different options to find your best correction.

 

Recycle with Us!

If you care enough to recycle, we can help!

Bring your recyclable vision items into our office, and we’ll take care of the rest!

EYEGLASSES:

Recycle for Sight - Lions Club

We have a donation box in our office!

Bring your used glasses to the office. We have a collection box for the Lions Club “Recycle Your Sight” program.  The donated glasses are measured and then distributed to people who match the prescription.  Your donation can help a child to be successful in school, allow an adult to get a job, or a keep a senior citizen living independently.

We accept any type of glasses:  distance, reading and sunglasses too!  Safety glasses are also welcome.  If you have a glasses case, we can accept those too.  But don’t worry if you no longer have the case, we will wrap them so they arrive at their destination safely.

 

 

CONTACT LENS PACKAGING: 

While you may be aware that the contact lens boxes can be recycled through your municipal recycling program, did you know that the blister packs can be recycled too?

Save contact lens packaging

Recycle your contact lens packaging!

Our office takes part in a recycling program that accepts specialty packaging…including the foil and plastic of blister packs.  If you wear daily contacts, you are throwing out two containers each day.  Multiply that  times 30 days/month, 365 days/year…it adds up!  Especially when you consider how many patients wear contacts,

Don’t put them in the trash!  Collect your discarded containers and bring them into the office.  We will send them to our recycling program, and eliminate all of that waste.  Recycling small things can make a big difference.

PLUS…for every qualifying shipment a donation will be made to Optometry Giving Sight.  This nonprofit organization works to prevent blindness and impaired vision for those who do not have access to eye exams and glasses/contacts. For more info, visit: http://www.givingsight.org

 

Partner with Moran Eye Associates in recycling. 
Working together, we can make a difference!