Vision Issue Hassles with the DMV!

Updated on March 18, 2013
M.J. asks from Sacramento, CA
7 answers

So, I went to renew my driver's license (needed a new photo) and it's proved to be a colossal headache! Apparently I was supposed to report a 1999 retinal detachment surgery on my left eye, even though the doctors said I could drive afterward and there was no mention from anyone about telling the DMV. Fine. So, I bring the documentation from my optometrist that I meet all of their requirements, having one really strong eye and one weak eye (I can pass eye exams with both eyes, but just couldn't drive using only my left eye ... but who does that?). Doctor said it's black and white on the vision issue and I pass, no worries about any of it.

Go to drop off the form today and now they're making me take a driving test! The same test I took as a teenager in 1986, having nothing to do with vision. Just driving around. Like I have time for this, between work and the kids' schedules! I'm going to be the oldest person there for this stupid test.

Has anyone had to jump through this many hoops over something where you meet all of their driving requirements? I feel a bit like I'm being picked on. Meanwhile, my elderly neighbor who's dying and uses a walker and can barely move, is on the road and isn't being hassled one bit about it.

I'm very frustrated.

ETA: Couldn't renew online because I needed the new photo. Have renewed online or by mail for ages.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback. The DMV only tells me the next step and carefully omits key facts, like the fact that even after the hassle of getting my doctor to fill out my medical history on a form, they won't read it and it doesn't matter. Just a formality for them to schedule yet another appointment. I appreciate you sharing that I'll need to go through this each renewal because no one said that at all.

I've decided I'm going to write the governor and mention this as a target area for inefficiency (he's big on reducing that right now). Seems like they could spend less time evaluating good drivers and get more done at DMV. I heard from a colleague whose wife had her license revoked after a one-time seizure due to a one-time dosage of medication and she went through a lengthy process to get it back. They're wasting a whole lot of time making good drivers jump through hoops when they should be focused on the really unsafe drivers and kids ready to get their licenses.

I still don't understand how a basic road test shows them anything about my vision that isn't said by the doctor already. Just proves I can drive. My brain and its decision-making power wasn't affected by my eye surgery.

Anyway, thanks for all of the kind comments back!

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

My husband has glaucoma and although his optometrist says he his fully capable of operating a vehicle he must take an on the road test every two years.

The reason they ask you to take the on the road test is so they can gauge your peripheral vision, depth perception in a much more chaotic environment than that of your doctor's office.

BTW - If DMV didn't tell you and if you have to renew your license sooner than most, you will need your optometrist clearance each time you renew.

Good Luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

HAHAHA I am not laughing at you really. But the same thing happened to me. I read the title to your post and immeditaly though she is in CA and sure enough it says CA mom.

I had to bring a licensed CA driver. My hubby, who had a NC license wouldn't do. He brought me anyway and then argued with DMV.
I had to go three times, once for them to tell me to go to the ophthalmologist, I then I took the written test, then went back for the driving test.
I drive a fullsize conversion van. THese are unheard of near Monterey. The DMV lady gets to the van and says real snotty like, "Are we driving this??" I just said well what else should I drive, I own this!

Then they gave me a temporary one year's license, I had to go back to the eye dr to have it reevaluated. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
By that time we had moved back to VA, we were military at the time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have a similar issue and that has never been a problem. Was it not possible to renew online?
I can really sympathize with you. I could fill pages with other complaints about the unbelievable hassles we went through getting our sons' licenses.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I have not had a hassle for myself, but my teen drivers have a hard time every time they go in for renewal. The graduated driver's license program does a lot to make sure we are safe here in TX. But all kids get run thru the DPS system every 6 -12 months to make sure the kid has not had too many citations or accidents. They have to go in person and it takes forever to do all that. But I want all teens to get this process, to make sure we don't have unsafe drivers out there.
One of my sons has seizure disorder and we know what you mean with your experience. He needs a note from the neurologist every time he goes in the license office. Another kid in our neighborhood also has had seizures and he lies to the DPS office and just renews online and never gets his doctor's note. Very annoying.
I believe that some day in the near future there will be restrictions for older drivers too. The number of accidents, deaths and property damage caused by older drivers who cannot see or think clearly is going way up and I hope that rules change soon to have them be checked out too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

First off I don't think losing your licenses would make anything easier so just take the time, and do it. Sure it's a hassle but what's your choice? Public transprtation or friends?,,not so,, Now, my daughter has type 1 diabetes and being honest as she should, when her renewal came it asked if there had been any health changes and she checked the box, "diabetes". That sent a letter to her Dr who filled it out completely wrong and sent it back to DMV, who then called and notified her that her license was suspended right then and she was not to drive. She naturally called in a panic and furious asking what the heck is going on? and was told she could appeal the decision but you have to get this little DMV court date and wait, no choice.. It was 4 weeks waiting. Believe me, no 28 yr old wants to be driven around by her mom but I did it and took her everywhere she needed, work, school medical appts, and friends when I could. She gathered every medical record from GP, to OBGYN to Optomitrist, to show she had no health changes due to the diabetes and proved her Dr had been wrong. Her health had actually improved over the past 3 years and over the course of a pregnancy and child birth and DMV took one look at her stack of papers and statements from professionals and turned the decision around right on the spot. They agreed the Dr had been an idiot when he filled out the form and caused her(and me) a lot of stress and misery. Now I tell you this because I also found out an intersting fact while searching for reasons why a diabetic should not be allowed to drive and in the searching I came across someone's question reguarding the DMV questionair my daughter had filled out. Many many people said that once they told the truth about thier diabetes and filled out that card, they had to jump thru hoops every year and had nothing but trouble keeping their license. Many said they had learned to lie and just not check that box anymore and no one ever came back asking them anything! I am certainly not suggesting you lie, but just be prepared to have to mess with this yearly. Even people with only 1 eye can have a drivers license so you should be ok after you go thru the hassle of DMV. Be glad you don't have anything worse wrong with you that could really stop you from driving.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Hi! Yes, I went through this exact situation very recently! My renewal was due September 2010 on my birthday! The DMV is a lot stricter now when it comes to the vision test! My left eye can never pass the vision test. I haven't had to go into the DMV for yrs to renew, so that's why I had to go this time. Anyway, my left eye can't read the chart. Then, they took me to another vision machine, but I couldn't pass that with my left eye. They gave me a temporary license. They gave me a form, & my optometrist filled it out. I turned that in, & then I found out that I had to schedule my behind-the-wheel driving test! (I probably took it in 1985!) I got another temporary license until my test! (They did accept my $ when I first when into the DMV to renew!) Anyway, I looked up the DMV information online about their driving tests because there are these "critical errors" now that are automatic fails! (I have teenagers, & so do some of my co-workers. I had heard about the critical errors, so I was concerned that I might do something wrong!)

I passed with no problem! I even drove on the highway! She didn't put any restrictions on my license. It just says, as it always had, that I must wear corrective lenses! I only missed 2 points!

Hopefully, I won't have to go through this next time since I'm already in their system! So, you aren't the only one!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am also very frustrated to. I took the test and passed in 2011, but had problems with the backline driving in 2013, and am retaking it at another facility tommorow. I had the operation in 2008, have not had a ticket since 2006, nor a accident since 1980, yet the DMV does not reward my good driving. This has caused me much stress. Why does the DMV not make people who have caused accidents take the test, why don't they make people like your old neighbor take the test. I think it is because of advocacy groups like senior citizen ones and also perhaps they think more racial minority groups have accidents. and are afraid of being charged with racial profiling (I meant no disrespect to minorities, but just a theory) We all need to get together and do something. Perhaps pickets in front of a DMV office would help, it certainly would get attention I think by the news media. ALso we need to inform our people in the California legislature about how we feel, and our governor of course. Perhaps if more people got together and filed a class action suit against the DMV, this would help. I thought about doing it myself, and still plan to call the ACLU (see what they do), but I was told that a lawyer would not take this on a contingency fee, and would have no chance to win. But people together are much stronger, and we need to bring this to light.

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