Vision testing: Do they test each eye? Or both at the same time?

Anybody recall for the California DMV vision test to renew your driver’s license, do they test each eye individually? Or do you just peer into that gadget with both eyes, use whichever eye gets the clearest result? The reason I ask, I have an in-person appt to renew on Tuesday, and I just discovered one of my contact lenses got torn. I can pass easily w/the one eye that has a good contact lens in it, but not the other.

Can’t you put your glasses on for the test?

I’m in Washington, had to renew mine 2 months ago in person, they just had me look into the device and read lines, no question about left or right. Not that that helps you at all in CA.

Glasses? I can do that if needed, but my distance vision w/glasses isn’t as good as w/contacts.

I haven’t had a DMV vision test in 10-15 years. But as I recall here it is the same, you just look at the chart with both eyes.

Ya know I have 10/100 vision, left eye sees what should look like 20 feet, at what looks like 10 feet. Right eye sees what should look like 20 ft, as 100 ft, ie can read the big letter and that is it! Normally I had a requirement of a left fender mirror, but moved to Florida and was told I could not get a license because I was legally blind.

I said well when they pull me over because I have Florida plates, and a non expired North Dakota license I will tell the officer that I was refused a license in Florida.

After a few supervisors they granted me a license.

Certainly one can get a license if (literally) blind in one eye (other eye OK). A guy I worked with had a glass eye.


I had to renew my CA license in person a few years ago

They checked both eyes individually, and then together


I’m fairly nearsighted

Both eyes are -6.5 . . . if that means anything to you

Anyways, I guarantee you I wouldn’t even be able to identify the big letter without glasses or contacts . . . !

Besides brushing my teeth, showering, and sleeping, there are very tasks I could accomplish without glasses or contacts


I am not sure if you have already checked, but this is what I get from the DMV site;

"Vision exam requirement

A 20/40 visual acuity with or without glasses is the department’s vision guideline. Customers applying for a Class A, B, or commercial C license must see 20/40 with both eyes and each eye individually. The departmental authority for administering the vision exam is 12804.9 (a) (1) (E) of the California Vehicle Code.

Visual acuity measurements are obtained for both eyes together and for each eye separately while both eyes remain open, as in normal driving. There are two methods of testing, a Snellen chart or Optec 1000 Vision Tester.

The Snellen chart contains five lines of letters and measures the portion of an applicant’s general seeing ability, known as visual acuity or keenness of vision. The Optec 1000 Vision Tester obtains a more precise vision score by providing a test situation, which is equivalent to placing the applicant at one end of a room 26 feet long to read a test target at the opposite end of the room.

Applicants who do not pass either exams may, depending on the circumstances, be referred to a vision specialist. The vision specialist may prescribe eye glasses or a stronger prescription for the current eye glasses worn."

Seems like they test both eyes; I am sure if you are blind in one eye, you still should be able to drive, but apparently they don’t want to public to know !!

20-40 vision with both eyes open is good for a drivers license in all states I know of, but for a commercial drivers license you need 20-40 in each eye. I once knew three cousins who all drove tractor trailer . Two of them had only one functioning eye each. The cousin with the two good eyes took all the physicals and eye exams for the other two. They are all long retired now but had good driving records.

You might call your optometrist, mine has “test” lenses on hand.

Wow, @Barkydog, since I live in Florida, I’m surprised they even argued with you 'cause it seems like half the elder population here is blind as a bat! Florida used to be notorious for allowing license renewal by mail. Snowbirds with a house here would license in Florida instead of their home state because no eye test was required!

Things may have changed, my experience was in the 80’s. Mine was a slightly crossed eye usually correctable if caught early, genetic I assume as our daughter had to use an eye patch, then corrective lenses, and her vision is fine. Mine was caught too late, so the brain basically picks a dominant eye and ignores the other. So the symptom is not remedied by corrective lenses. @Mustangman 5 years till retirement thinking of buying a condo and being a snowbird myself!

My state definitely checks each eye. I have 20/40 in one eye and 20/60 in the other. Both are correctable to 20/20 with glasses. Since I’ve worn glasses for 40 years, I was used to taking the auto vision test with them on. Of course this made it so that I had a restriction on my license that corrective lenses must be worn. Then one year at renewal time, the clerk suggested I try the test W/O glasses. Since the state’s requirement is that one must have 20/40 uncorrected vision in ONE eye, I was passed without glasses. I’ve kept it that way for about 35 years now. Even my CDL and pilot’s license were OK @ 20/40 in one eye until this year when the CDL was denied W/O glasses. I haven’t renewed my Class 3 FAA medical yet, but I suspect it will be the same.

@Barkydog, I’ve never heard of 10/100 vision. Wouldn’t that be mathematically the same as 20/200 where one would see at 20 feet what the average person sees at 200? That was my wife until two weeks ago when she had her second cataract surgery. She has not seen so well since she was a child. I hope my marriage is safe…

Note that 20/20 is not “perfect” vision. There are people who can read a 20/15 or even a 20/10 line on the eye chart.

@“MG McAnick” the numbers for me would be as you infer from the chart, 20/10 and 20/100. My first test they had a mechanism for testing depth perception, one had to move 2 objects so they ended up the same distance from you, not sure of the specifics of the mechanism, but I got close enough to pass.
That was back when drivers ed was a high school class, One of the guys in my car drove the teacher nuts, “I can’t believe I got a kid that stops for birds!”


When I took the vision test Tuesday they tested both eyes at once, and each individually – the latter by asking me to use a paper card to block one eye, then the other. Both eyes together and each eye separately must pass at 20/40 to receive an unrestricted license it appears. I didn’t ask, but I imagine it’s probably ok for a non-commercial license if just one eye passes, like if you are blind in one eye you can still probably get a DL. But there may be add’l requirements or restrictions in that situation. Fortunately my eyes passed all three tests.

How did I do it with a missing contact lens? I ate a lot of carrots and wore my glasses instead of my contacts … lol …