Vision Policy Statement

Index

Background Information

  1. Vision Standards

    1. Visual acuity and horizontal peripheral field of vision standards (excluding individuals who use bioptic telescopic lenses)

    2. Visual acuity and horizontal peripheral field of vision standard for applicants and licensees who use bioptic telescopic lenes

    3. Color vision standard

    4. Vision impairment standard

  2. Administrative Procedures

Appendix A (examples of acceptable bioptic telescopic lenses)


As of June 16, 1998:

The following minimum standards are applicable to all persons hold or seeking a Class D or a Class M license. Other standards may apply to those holding or seeking a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) (See Federal Regulations). The Commonwealth sets different standards for those seeking a license/certificate to transport school pupils/children. (See Policy Statements specific to School Bus, 7D, and 7D½ licenses).

For the purpose of these standards, "physician" is defined as "a medical doctor who is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The Registrar, or her designee, may require such additional evidence of the applicant or licensee's medical qualification criteria as he deems appropriate, or may modify these standards as an individual case may require.

Background Information

The Registry's vision standards are adopted in the context of the following information:

20/20 is excellent visual acuity and 20/200 is legally blind. 20/40 vision is better than 20/50 vision, 20/50 is better than 20/60, 20/60 is better than 20/70, and so on.

The term "at least 20/40," as used in the visual acuity standards means 20/40 or better - 20/40, 20/30, or 20/20 visual acuity would all be acceptable for an unrestricted license. 20/50 or 20/60 would not be acceptable.

180 degrees horizontal peripheral field of vision is a full field of vision. 170 degrees is better than 160 degrees, 160 degrees is better than 150 degrees, and so on.

The term "not less than 120 degrees," as used in the horizontal peripheral field of vision standard means 120 degrees or more- 120 degrees, 130 degrees, or 140 degrees horizontal peripheral field of vision would all be acceptable. 115 degrees or 110 degrees would not be acceptable.

Any time an applicant or licensee uses glasses, contact lenses, or bioptic telescopic lenses (see diagram attached as "Appendix A") to meet any of the vision standards, a "B" restriction (corrective lenses) must be put on the license.

  1. Vision Standards

    If the individual cannot meet the following standards, a license or learner's permit shall not be issued:

    1. Visual acuity and horizontal peripheral field of vision standards (excluding individuals who use bioptic telescopic lenses).

      1. At least 20/40 distant visual acuity (Snellen) in either eye, with or without corrective lenses, and not less than 120 degrees combined horizontal peripheral field of vision;

        Eligible for a license. A "B" (corrective lenses) restriction must be put on the license when corrective lenses are used to meet this standard.

        or

      2. Between 20/50 - 20/70 distant visual acuity (Snellen) in either eye, with or without corrective lenses, and not less than 120 degrees combined horizontal peripheral field of vision.

        Eligible for a "daylight only" license. A "G" restriction (daylight only) must be imposed. Also a "B" restriction must be put on the license when corrective lenses are used to meet this standard. If the licensee wishes to have the "G" restriction removed from his or her license, he or she must take and pass a night time driving test.

    2. Visual acuity and horizontal peripheral field of vision standard for applicants and licensees who use bioptic telescopic lenses (please refer to diagram attached as "Appendix A").

      Individuals who use bioptic telescopic lenses are not eligible to receive a class M (motorcycle) learner's permit or license. Based upon the advice of the Registry's Medical Advisory Board, the Registrar has determined that such devices pose a safety hazard to both the individual operating the motorcycle and to the public.

      Individuals who use bioptic telescopic lenses are eligible to receive class D learner's permits and licenses only, provided the following standards are met:

      1. At least 20/40 distant visual acuity (Snellen) through the telescope, and at least 20/100 distant visual acuity (Snellen) through the carrier lens, and at least 20/100 distant visual acuity (Snellen) through the other lens; and not less than 120 degrees combined horizontal peripheral field of vision;

        and

      2. The bioptic telescope used by the applicant or licensee must be:
        Monocular The telescope must be on one eye only; telescopes over both eyes are not acceptable for licensing purposes.
        Fixed Focus Telescopes that need to be rotated to focus are not acceptable.
        No greater than 3x Magnification must not exceed three times.
        Spectacle-mounted and an integral part of the lens No clip-on or hand-held telescopes are acceptable for licensing purposes.
        Located so not to occlude the wearer's line of sight and not to occlude the visual field in the other eye The telescope must be affixed to the upper quadrant of the lens so that the wearer's vision while looking through the carrier lens or other lens is not blocked or impeded in any way. See diagram attached as "Appendix A."

        When reviewing a vision screening certificate, the Registry clerk shall determine whether the certifying physician or optometrist has checked "Yes" next to each of the above criteria. If the certifying physician or optometrist has checked "No,"to any of the criteria, a license is not possible.

        Eligible for a class D "daylight only" license. A "G" restriction (daylight only) and a "B" restriction (corrective lenses) must be imposed. If the licensee wishes to have the "G" restriction removed from his or her license, he or she must take and pass a night time driving test.

    3. Color vision standard:

      Applicant or licensee must be able to distinguish the colors red, green and amber.

      If the applicant or licensee cannot distinguish the colors red, green, and amber, a license is not possible.

    4. Vision impairment standard:

      Applicant or licensee must not have unresolvable diplopia (double vision which cannot be resolved by wearing an eye patch or other suppressive device).

      If the applicant or licensee does have unresolvable diplopia, a license is not possible.

  2. Administrative Procedures

    1. The vision testing machine:

      The vision testing machine tests a distant visual acuity of 20/40 (Snellen) in either eye, with or without corrective lenses, and 140 degrees combined horizontal peripheral field of vision. If an applicant meets this standard through the vision testing machine, he or she is eligible for a license. A "B" restriction (corrective lenses) must be imposed when corrective lenses are used to meet this standard.

      1. Due to technical limitations, applicants or licensees who wear bioptic telescopic lenses cannot be deemed vision qualified by taking the vision test. These individuals MUST submit a vision screening certificate.


    2. Monovision is a method of visual correction (either through surgery or by contact lens) that allows for the use of one eye for distance vision and the other eye for near vision. Some customers with monovision have trouble with the RMV's computerized vision screening. A Vision Screening Certificate (VSC), completed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and indicating that the customer is visually qualified to safely operate a motor vehicle, can be accepted in place of the computerized vision screening.

    3. The vision screening certificate:

      If the applicant or licensee fails the vision test, declines to take the test, or wears bioptic telescopic lenses, he or she must submit a vision screening certificate.

      A vision screening certificate is a form provided by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and must be completed by a physician or optometrist who is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

      1. To be acceptable, the vision screening certificate must:

        1. be fully completed by physician or optometrist and the applicant or licensee; and

        2. be twelve (12) months old or less from the date of the screening; and

        3. contain the original signatures of the applicant or licensee and the certifying physician or optometrist. No photocopies will be accepted.

      2. A licensee with a "G" restriction (daylight only) who desires to take a night time road test to determine his or her ability to drive safely at night, must make a written request to the Medical Affairs Branch of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 55889, Boston, MA 02205-5889. The Medical Affairs Branch shall then schedule the night time road test and notify the licensee of the scheduled date, time, and location of the night time road test.

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