Driving with a Visual Defect

I discovered 6 months ago through a routine optician appointment that I have lost the lower right quandrant of my visual field in both eyes. Turns out that sometime in the last 10 years (unbeknown to me) I have had an occipital/parietal stroke which has permenantly damaged the visual pathway to that part of my vision, a Visual defect called Quadrantanopia. I was told not to drive while the medical assessments were completed and before the DVLA were notified. The medical results show a congenital hole in my heart where a blood clot seems to have got through and up to my brain, causing the stroke. This is as far as I have got because of Covid my cardiologist appointment is yet to arrive. My main issue and what I wanted to ask about is driving. I drive for my job and have done for 20 years. I work as an account sales manager. I haven’t been able to drive since November and am desperate to know from the DVLA what their conclusion is regarding my case. Since Covid they have shut their services and I can’t get an answer. Is there anyone out there who has experienced similar and is able to drive? I am so desperate for some hope......look forward to anyone’s advice. Thanks Sally

Hi Sally! I had my stroke in April 2017. One of the side effects of my stroke is I had right upper quadrant vision loss. My consultant first told me that there is a big chance I won't be allowed to drive again but I can try to ask DVLA to medically investigate me first. 10 months after my stroke my consultant said it was time for me to get in touch with DVLA. I refused to give up my license until they medically investigated me. I did send forms to officially ask for this medical investigation to proceed. When they received the form they initially asked me to have a visual assessment at Specsaver (their official opticians). They will send you a list of official locations.  Fortunately, unlike my consultant, the optician who saw me thought my vision was good enough (I can see enough) for me to drive. So the next thing was an assessment in Leeds. (It took months and a lot of follow-ups and phone calls to DVLA before this assessment was booked. BE PATIENT ONCE THEY ARE OPERATIONAL AGAIN.) After the initial assessment in Leeds (which involved 50 mins of talks and tests then followed by 45 mins driving around Leeds)  the driving instructress and occupational therapist said they will tell DVLA that I can drive again as long as I retrain myself. I was relieved because it was 19 months since I last drove and not only I have a vision loss but I am also suffering from drop foot. My full license was taken from me and replaced with a provisional license which will allow me up to 3 months to have driving lessons with an approved instructor. I took the chance to use the maximum 3 months to retrain. I took 1 lesson a week (an hour or an hour and a half lessons) at my own expense. And mid-May last year I attended another assessment session. (You can book this asessment as soon as you are confident with your driving.) We had about 1/2 hour talking session before I had to drive around Leeds for 50 minutes. This time the route was more complicated, including joining the motorway and getting out of it twice. I found driving around Leeds very daunting but kept my cool. It amused me that they even asked me if it was OK with me if a third passenger will join us. I can remember my reply "That is fine. As long as you are happy to entrust your lives in my hands." Both assessments I had to drive a car I have never driven before. I am used to driving a manual/petrol car. With my lessons I drove a diesel then when I was assessed I drove a petrol car again.  After a very interesting discussion with the driving instructress and OT (I had to strongly defend myself) they finally said they will tell DVLA I am OK to drive. After that I just had to wait for my full license in the post. I was very pleased that even with a drop foot they allowed me to continue driving a manual car. It meant I can continue driving our existing car.

You have to be patient but forceful. It will take much longer than they are promising. Much longer. So you should follow-up and follow-up until you get your desired reply or actions. With the Covid-19 pandemic assessments are maybe put on hold because they need to be face to face and actual driving is involved. I think you just need to be extremely patient until life is normalised again. 

Wishing you the best. This virus is causing so much frustration which we don't need on top of our lives being turned upside down and inside out because of stroke. But there is hope. Believe me, as long as you have the determination, persistence and patience. Ruby 



Hi Ruby, thanks so much for your reply-it has really helped fill me with hope! I will continue chasing the DVLA and hope to get a driving assessment asap! Thanks Ruby ?

Wishing you the best Sally! Just keep patient, persistent and determined. Never give up that license until you have all the assessments, got the results and you explored all options. When you meet the assessors be respectful, be honest, cooperative and open but be firm and always stand up for your rights. Remember, the assessors are there to help you get back and stay driving, albeit safely, on the road. They are not there to stop you from driving unless it will be unsafe for you and the other people and vehicles around you. Be realistic. In the end your safety and the people around you is of the utmos importance. Wishing you the best. Never give up. Never give in. No matter what will be the result you will always find a way to deal with your new reality. Expect a long haul, especially and unfortunately with the situation we are all in right now. I wish you an interesting journey. OK, enough from me. ? Take care. Be safe, healthy and well. Have a good weekend. Ruby ☺

I recently had a stroke back at the end of January 2021, it took the hospital/doctors some time to confirm I actuallly had a stroke, thinking I had a migraine, as nothing showed up on a CT scan, I had to get a private MRI scan in the end as hospital and eye clinic were taking too long.  Once MRI confirmed clot to right side of brain, I was given blood thinners/lansiprazole & statins, no help or information has been forth coming from eye clinic or doctors alike.   I feel like I have been left just to get on with it!   My vision is not overly bad, restriction to my peripheral vision on the right eye, but it is the motion sickness that I am struggling with, I can't seem to see any improvement especially when going into shops, it can be quite daunting.  Does anyone know of any exercises I can do to help improve the motion sickness or where I can find on-line any exercises that might help with this, as I am feeling quite low and depressed now as doctors just do not seem to be doing anything to help!  

Afternoon, sorry to hear about your stroke. I had one 7 weeks ago and like your self it’s effected my vision and perception of things. I’m awaiting an appointment regarding my vision but again I’m also an account sales manager and I’m worried that il it be able to drive again.

hope your recovery as been a fast one

I too lost part of my vision in my right eye because of damage to the optic nerve by my stroke . the  specialist at the local hospital wrote a very supportive report to the DVL A and after about 12 months of endless form filling the DVLA wrote thar my driving licence was still valid.I also have to add that because of the length of time it took I had lost my nerve and I decided it was time to stop - I am 77 years of age and really wish I could still drive as it can be very isolating not being able to get to places.

have you sorted? if you guys need help to reach work, DWP ( access to work) really helped me. please let me know I can explain everything. i have lost my licence straight away age 40