Vision

vision med

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Q&A

What are the vision requirements to get a DOT medical card?

What if I have monocular vision?

Can I wear contact lenses to do the vision test?

What if I have had laser eye surgery?

I am legally blind in one eye from an injury? With documentation from my eye specialist can I pass the DOT physical?

I have 20/20 vision corrected, right eye. 20/200 uncorrectable in my left eye, 70 degree plus horizontal left and right. Does this fail the DOT physical?

I’ve been a CDL driver for 16 years. Last week, for my DOT physical the doctor made me do the color test from a book with numbers and dots. I could get only half of them right. I have always been able to see the colors red, green and amber and pass my DOT physical. Now the book test has made me fail the color portion of the DOT physical. What’s going on with this?

What are the vision requirements to get a DOT medical card?

You must have a distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 with or without corrective lenses:

  • see at least 20/40 with both eyes together
  • see at least 20/40 with the right eye
  • see at least 20/40 with the left eye.

Monovision is a disqualification. Use of a contact lens in one eye for distant visual acuity and another lens in the other eye for near vision is not acceptable, nor are telescopic lenses acceptable for driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Exemption: A driver with monocular vision may be able to get a Federal Vision Exemption Certificate, if medically fit for duty in all other categories of the physical exam.

What if I have monocular vision?

If you pass all other aspects of the DOT physical, and you meet all vision requirements in the functioning eye, then you may be considered for a Federal Vision Exemption.

Can I wear contact lenses to do the vision test?

You are permitted to wear contact lenses provided you’re used to wearing them and have a good tolerance for wearing contacts. Be aware that monovision is a disqualification, so use of a contact lens in one eye for distant visual acuity and another lens in the other eye for near vision is not acceptable.

What if I have had laser eye surgery?

Provided you meet the vision requirements, you should have no problem.

I am legally blind in one eye from an injury? With documentation from my eye specialist can I pass the DOT physical?

This type of injury will require documentation.
If you are going to drive only within your state borders, it will be easier. Just check with your DMV to see what the states rules and regulations are.
To pursue an interstate medical card will require an exemption that you can only get from FMCSA. Check out the requirements to determine if this is something you want to pursue. It is possible, but a bit tough to do. Lots of hoops, but do-able.

I have 20/20 vision corrected, right eye. 20/200 uncorrectable in my left eye, 70 degree plus horizontal left and right. Does this fail the DOT physical?

DOT requires you have a minimum of 20/40 vision in each eye, and in both eyes together, either non-corrective or with corrective lenses. Your peripheral vision is within normal limits.
All that being said, you could be driving skills tested with a FMCSA exemption. Check with the FMCSA for the requirements for that particular exemption.

I’ve been a CDL driver for 16 years. Last week, for my DOT physical the doctor made me do the color test from a book with numbers and dots. I could get only half of them right. I have always been able to see the colors red, green and amber and pass my DOT physical. Now the book test has made me fail the color portion of the DOT physical. What’s going on with this?

It looks like the doctor is trying to determine if you may be color blind. But the primary reason for the DOT physical color test is to determine your ability to distinguish red, amber/yellow and green – not a color blindness examination. Not really sure as to why they would do this. Especially since you have been driving for so long. You are correct to question this.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the reply.

    Where do I submit the physical documentation to get my medical card? I will need the waiver and have the appointment with my opthamalogist next week.

    I’m sorry about being clueless, but I’m on my own here and this process is unclear to me.

    Thanks.

    • @JJ
      1. See your opthamologist. Get a report from the opthamologist.
      2. Go to a certified medical examiner for a DOT physical exam. Take the opthamology report with you, it’ll be helpful information for the medical examiner. If you qualify for a medical card other than the monocular vision, you may get a medical card with the condition that a vision waiver is needed.
      3. Start the vision waiver process.
      4. Start driver training if the school will allow, while the vision waiver is in process.

  2. If I do fail the eye test portion due to a cataract– what happens? Do they allow me to drive in the meantime until I get the cataract removed? Its borderline right now and my regular eye doctor says we can just monitor it for now, which I’d prefer to do– but I’m concerned about the test in a couple months.

    • @Natasha
      Visual acuity must be 20/40 or better in both eyes and each eye individually. That includes using corrective lenses. If you do not pass the eye test due to a cataract, then you don’t get to drive until it’s corrected.

  3. Getting different information. A company I was hired with, wants me to get a DOT physical for intrastate driving, no CDL required. The physician says I will need a federal waiver for vision, but the federal vision phone number representative said cause it is intrastate driving onnly they will not do a waiver for intrastate driving, and I need to go thru my state for an exemption. The local DMV has a form I can get filled out from an eye doctor, but the physician completing the physical said the only way to pass the DOT physical is to have the waiver from the FMCSA, and that it doesn’t matter if it is intrastate or interstate driving the requirements for the physical are the same. How do you handle that when the FMCSA won’t do waivers for intrastate driving and the doctor will not take a state DMV approved waiver?

    • @Greg
      Your local doctor is over-reading the DOT examination. Your medical card to drive is only to determine medical fitness for the job. As an intra-state driver all you need is the vision waiver from the state to drive intra-state.

  4. I do not have a cdl but want to obtain one. I have monocular vision and know I will need a waiver. My question is about process. Do I go through the training and take the exams first or do I get the medical waiver and then go through training. I’m getting mixed answers from my DMV and my school. Thanks.

    • @JJ
      Most states require that you have a medical card before starting your training.
      The visual waiver will take a bit of time to acquire and some steps must be gone through first. The medical card will state that a waiver is required.
      Medical card first, then start process for waiver and training.

  5. I have been seeing all kinds of vision questions but none pertain to me. How about an answer about glaucoma. Mine is treated and pressures are well within requirements. 12 in both eyes. Now I have seen two different Dot examiners and both won’t sign off on my dot physical even though I see 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 in the other. My horizontal field of vision is within specification. They both want my eye specialist to tell them I can see well enough to drive. Now my eye specialist says that he won’t sign off that I can drive. He says that if I get into an accident then it could come back on him. I have read the regulation and I see nothing pertaining to my problem, so what am I to do? I can’t keep spending $100 every 3 months to renew my dot physical card. It isn’t fair.

    • @ Douglas
      So FMCSA wants any driver to pass the vision test with at least 70 degrees of peripheral vision in each eye. Corrected and / or uncorrected eyes must see 20/40 or better using 1. both eyes and 2. each eye individually.
      Your eye doctor is not being ask to do anything but to confirm your present visual acuity. If you have a visual / eye condition which requires medication, then you need to have your prescribing doctor complete a medical release form explaining what meds and if any restrictions exist.
      The CME’s job is to determine medical fitness for duty as a CMV operator. The CME needs the medical release form from your prescribing doctor to determine your medical fitness and the eye doctor is only answering the most basic question, is your condition stable, safe and effective? He is not being held at any level of risk.

  6. william stroup says:

    Hoe would you arrange to be skills tested by FMCSA if you have a vision problem in one eye less than 20/40

  7. Corey Beets says:

    If my Texas intrastate vision waiver is approved and I get the required experience driving a commercial vehicle to apply for the FMSCA vision exemption if it is granted does that overthrow the intrastate Texas restriction and allow me to driver interstate?

    • @Corey
      In most cases FMCSA regulations override state regulations.
      To pass the class A, drivers medical examination is more strict than most states.
      Once you have the DOT vision exemption, you should be good to go. Good Luck

  8. Corey beets says:

    Was told I will probably have to get a vision waiver for my Amblyopia. But also have seen exemptions for amblyopia to be able to drive interstate? How long does it normally take to get the waiver to drive intrastate? Do I need experience doing intrastate before I can try for exemption for interstate? I’m trying to start trucking school around October.

    • @Corey
      Most states are a bit more lenient with intra-state drivers. So check with your state regarding that issue.
      Inter-state is under federal ruling and is more strict. You would have to have a vision waiver, which could take some time to acquire. So it all depends on what type of driving and whether it’s intra or inter-state.

  9. How often does dot require vision to be tested.

  10. I had a eye injury a few months back my eye has healed but i lost my peripheral it is only at 50 percent and at night the headlights of on coming cars cause migranes also my vision gets blurry after a couple of hours of driving in that eye. Will i be able to get a waiver for this thanks

  11. I have 20/20 in both eyes but I tend to see double if I move my eyes or head around scanning mirrors and such. There is lots of Floaters in my right eye that does poss a problem from time to time. I can focus back to one image but it’s not stable….will this disqualify me as a class A CDL driver…this has got lots worse since removal of a cataract in my right eye? I need an opinion because I feel it’s time to throw in the towel, I don’t trust what I am seeing, depth preception is crap too.

    • @Tim
      Your gut feeling is the best one to go with on this one. You are not going to be a truly safe operator and you will be questioning every move you make. Also your examiner will probably not qualify you as a safe CMV operator. In this case it’s all about safety and you have made the best decision in this matter. Good Luck.

    • Mike French Jr. says:

      With regards to the floaters and depth perception after cataract removal…… your opthamologist should be able to remove many of the floaters. As for depth perception, he/she should be able to correct that also. If doc (surgeon) isn’t able or willing to correct the floaters etc, get a 2nd opinion from a different opthamologist. I had cataract surgery, and had some floaters that were removed.

  12. Joanne Moore says:

    You keep saying over and over and over and over to check into getting a Federal Vision Exemption if you don’t have 20/40 in both eyes but a monocular vision with one eye that passes but the other that doesn’t. HOW? Who do I contact? What address or website? It is one thing to say contact someone but something else if you don’t tell us how to? I live in Illinois in Will County. Where do I go, who do I write, what do I do?

  13. Joanne Moore says:

    DOT requires you have a minimum of 20/40 vision in each eye, and in both eyes together, either non-corrective or with corrective lenses. Your peripheral vision is within normal limits.
    All that being said, you could be driving skills tested with a FMCSA exemption. Check with the FMCSA for the requirements for that particular exemption.

  14. Anthony Huss says:

    I have a qustion about a hernia. I have a hernia on my right groin area. At times it bulges out other times it doesn’t I have had this for a long time and does not hurt or bother me in any way, can this keep me from passing my dot physical. Thanks in advance!

  15. I recently took my physical for dot and passed everything. However because I were monovision contacts I have to apply for a waiver. If I have 20/40 in each eye and in both together why is this an issue and why is having monovision contacts an issue in the first place.

    • @Sandy
      You brought this upon yourself. Monocular visual setups are disqualifiers for interstate drivers, according to FMCSA.
      Just go in with a set of lens that allow you to pass without the monocular vision setup and you’ll pass without any problems.

      • thanks wish I had known this information before. Did not know about monovision contacts. I will attempt to take the test again with new contacts but not sure that it will make a difference with this doctor. Also please explain why monovision contacts are an issue

        • @Sandy
          The monovision disqualifier is an FMCSA regulation.
          See the FAQ at the top of this page.
          It’s important to understand, and it seems that people who have monocular lasik will have problems.
          Hopefully yours is just a matter of changing lenses or getting prescription glasses. Good luck.

  16. Hi, I live in Alabama and I am legally blind in my left eye from an uncorrectable injury as an infant, 20/200 vision and 20/20 in my right eye. I was able to get my regular drivers license years ago with no problem, then I took a DOT physical a little while back and did not pass it because of my vision. I do not want to be a truck driver, but rather a selector in a winn-dixie warehouse. A selector there operates an electric pallet jack that carries 4500 pounds or more , which OSHA ruled recently that the selectors must have a CDL license to operate those machines. Since I would not be performing as an “over-the-road” truck driver, would a medical clearance stating that I can perform those without accomidation enable me to pass the DOT physical and get my CDL license? Please respond as soon as possible. Preferrably by email if possible. Thank you. On second thought, responding on this site is fine.

    • @Jeff
      Check with Alabama DLD. You should be able to pass as an intra-state only, non commercial operator.
      That would get your medical card, with your restrictions listed. Then the state DLD will provide you with a vision exemption, if needed. Good Luck.

  17. Ok… Two part question. Do I need to get federal exemption for vision before my medical card runs out and assuming I got the federal exemption how long would it last?

    • @Chris
      Not knowing what the eye condition is, I can’t really answer your question.
      In general, most of the exemptions are for two years and the medical card for one, depending on the condition.

  18. 20/15 an 20/20 in the other eye is that still passing???

  19. I have monocular vision in one eye. My other eye is 20/20. I went to the optometrist and medical examiner and the medical examiner said I would need to get a federal vision exemption. I went to the DMV in California and told them I wanted a intrastate commercial license only. DMV denied my application and said it was because of the MD monocular vision report and I should look into getting an exemption from the Federal. My question is will I be approved for an exemption or have anyone heard of other drivers receiving a federal vision exemption for monocular vision?
    Sincerely

    • @Zack
      Once you have the waiver from the federal government you should not have any real problems. You will have to have a skills test done once you have the waiver and are ready to start driving.

  20. I was diagnosed with a kidney disease in 2012. A side effect of the disease was high blood pressure. Before we caught it, it had damaged the nerves in my right eye and I lost 40% vision in my right eye. I cannot correct this with glasses or contacts. Can I pass a DOT vision test with my vision issues?

    • @Ethan
      You don’t give me enough information as to what your present eye sight is, but even if you are blind in one eye you could still drive. It would require a vision waiver from the FMCSA/DOT.
      Or you might check with your state about driving as an intra-state driver. Each state has its own rules and regs on this issue.

  21. Daniel T says:

    I wear bi-focal contact lenses . My vision is 20/40. I cannot read a WALL chart at 20 ft as required. My eye Dr. says my employers testing facility has to use the eye machine. Is this true?
    BTW: I pass using the eye machine ;)

    • @Daniel
      By FMCSA rules, you should be able to read a wall chart at 20 feet and have vision of 20/40 or better with both eyes and each eye individually. And that can be with a corrective lens.
      I would make sure the vision portion of the DOT examination is completed by your eye doctor. That covers everybody’s bases.

  22. Dan Flint says:

    Can I have an in state medical card in the state of Tn? and what is the eye exam requirments for this?

    • @Dan
      Hard to say. If they follow FMCSA it is 20/40 in both eyes and 20/40 in each eye. That can be done with corrective lenses or without correction.
      Here in Utah you could have special limitations as long as you are driving intra-state only.
      So check with your state DMV to answer your specific questions.

  23. Dan Flint says:

    I can not pass the federal eye exam requirments. My question is can I get an instate only medical card for the state of Tn?

  24. Can you wear bifocal glasses?

  25. Mary Johnston says:

    Can you file an application for vision exemption in Arkansas if you hold a CDL with a passenger (city transit driver) endorsement?

  26. CAN A DRIVER WHO HAS MONOCULAR VISION BE CERTIFIED FOR INTRASTATE (NEVADA) WITHOUT THE VISION EXEMPTION WAIVER AND FOR 1 OR 2 YEARS CERT.

    THANK YOU,

    • @Kim
      Not sure about intra-state within NV.
      I do know that in Utah a monocular vision driver can operate a commercial vehicle, without a waiver, as long as it is intra-state only.
      Check with your state DMV for specifics.

  27. I have diabetes which is controlled by oral medicine. Do I have to have an exam/paperwork from an ophthalmologist to give the DOT medical examiner to obtain my medical card now? Or is a regular optician exam sufficient?

    • @PLP
      If you are having any difficulty with your vision, then get your ophthalmologist to fill out the visual portion of the DOT medical exam.
      You should not need a waiver or exemption for this. In most cases, if you are not having any problems, you can have the DOT examiner do the eye test and have to difficulties.

  28. Amber Foreman says:

    My husband passed his DOT with flying colors 3yrs ago. Since then, we’ve found out he has diabetes type2. Due to his medication he has developed a color defiency and failed 4 out of the 8 color/vision questions. Will they allow him to wear prescribed tinted lenses (which have allowed him to see all colors thru them) to pass the exam?

    • @Amber
      What DOT is looking for is the ability to distinguish between red, yellow, and green. There’s no other color test that is a part of the medical exam.
      So the use of a prescribed lens should be just fine.

  29. I passed all the medical tests and recieved my DOT card without any issues. When I went to the TX licensing to take my tests I failed the eye test there. They have given me a waiver to apply for — so will I lose my DOT. I have 20/40 in both and 20/40 in right and 20/100 in left since childhood. Am I still going to be able to get my CDL? Is there a way to get around this since I have already got my medical card?

    • @Dave
      You should not have been given a medical card without having the examiners explanation as to what it means to you.
      So here is where you are. You passed the exam and you can now apply for the visual waiver from FMCSA.
      But your medical card is only good with the exemption waiver in hand. And there’s no way around it.
      It is doable, just takes a little time. Good luck.

  30. Where can you find an eye doctor that does the vision waivers in Arkansas or Oklahoma ? All the ones my ex has called doesn’t know what he is talking about and won’t do one.

    • @Janita
      You must first request the basic information from FMCSA. No one has this form on hand. So, check with FMCSA and then follow the instructions. Good Luck. It will take a little time, but is very do-able.

  31. Hank Highsmith says:

    Maybe this answers my question?

    I have 20/20 vision corrected, right eye. 20/200 uncorrectable in my left eye, 70 degree plus horizontal left and right. Does this fail the DOT physical?

    DOT requires you have a minimum of 20/40 vision in each eye, and in both eyes together, either non-corrective or with corrective lenses. Your peripheral vision is within normal limits.
    All that being said, you could be driving skills tested with a FMCSA exemption. Check with the FMCSA for the requirements for that particular exemption.

  32. Hank Highsmith says:

    I have to take the DOT Physical to get a taxi license. I was born with Amblyopia in my left eye. It is all I have ever known and next week I will have had my operators license for 44 years. The only requirement is that I have outside mirrors, both sides. I am going to get glasses this week before the physical. Someone that I talked to at the taxi company said she thought they weren’t as picky on vision for taxi drivers. Any opinion or avice?

    • @Hank
      FMCSA and DOT require that a driver have a minimum of 20/40 vision in each eye as well as 20/40 with the use of both eyes. That can be with out correction or with correction. Also the driver needs to have at least a 70 degree lateral vision.
      These rules are for the Medical card for a class A driver.
      I would check with your state to see if you will qualify as a taxi driver with a limited lateral vision. You are not driving an 80 ft. long truck and each state has a slightly different requirement for non over the road driver, based on their driver class.

  33. cory schindler says:

    Last week I took my dot physical I passed everything but the vision I’m getting glasses in 7 days do I have to retake the whole physical again or just the eye test.

  34. Dennis R Otto says:

    Yesterday Jan. 14th 2014 I took the written test to get my cdl learners permit at the Pewaukee Wis. DMV. I passed the first test with a score of 82 and the second test with a score of 100. When I took my vision test the examiner that administered the test told me that my vision was 20/40 in my left eye with my glasses on, and that 20/20 was required to get a cdl learners permit. This seems to contridict the information that I am seeing on this website.

    • @Dennis
      On the visual acuity examination you must be 20/40 in each eye and both eyes together. That can be done with or without corrective lenses, but 20/40 with corrective lenses is within the normal DOT/ FMCSA parameters.
      Whomever told you, you must correct to 20/20, is incorrect.
      Here is the official link to the rule/regulation from FMCSA – See 391.41 (b)(10).

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