Eye Exam & Vision Requirements For DOT Physical

What New Truck Drivers Need to Know About the DOT Eye Exam:

  • The DOT Eye Exam will measure your visual perception by a series of tests of both distance and peripheral vision.
  • To pass, drivers will need 20/40 vision (with or without aid), a 70-degree field of vision, and the ability to differentiate between common traffic control colors such as red and green.
  • You must pass the DOT eye exam before taking a road test.
  • Accommodation is available in the form of exemptions for those that may not otherwise meet the requirements.
  • The exam is part of any regular DOT physical and must be completed by a certified medical examiner.

See also:

How Does the DOT Vision Test Work?

  • The DOT Vision Test typically has two major components that test the driver’s distance vision and field of view.
  • Distance vision is typically measured by having drivers read off a standard Snellen chart and achieving 20/40 or better in both eyes, with (or without) corrective lenses.
  • Peripheral vision is most often tested using methods such as holding up fingers on the edge of the driver’s view.
  • Drivers will also have to differentiate between common traffic control colors such as amber, red, and green.

Costs Associated with the DOT physical

Depending on your location, a DOT physical can cost anywhere from $100 to $140. For example, CVS will let you book an appointment for a DOT physical online ahead of time and tell you the expected price upfront.

If you fail your vision test, getting an eye exam is a good idea. Any optometrist or ophthalmologist can normally do these.

  • Eye exam services can be found in stores such as Walmart and Target in addition to other national chains such as LensCrafters.
  • The cost of an eye exam can be as low as $40.

Feel free to use your private doctor, but eye exams must be done by a certified medical examiner to qualify as an official DOT eye exam. A driver’s company will typically require a physical to be done by doctors of their choosing.

Tips for Passing The DOT Eye Exam

  • Keep an eye healthy diet. Eat lots of carrots and avoid straining them. (Take special care of your diet if you are diabetic.)
  • Stay well-hydrated, this will help prevent dry eyes which can lead to blurred vision and eye fatigue.
  • Get plenty of rest, especially the night before your exam. Sleep is essential to maintaining proper vision.
  • Avoid smoking, drugs, and alcohol. The former two may speed the growth of cataracts while the latter dries eyes out.
  • Wear sunglasses and protect your eyes from bright lights and glare. This is especially true if you have lighter-colored eyes, such as those with blue eyes.

Exemptions - What is the Alternative Vision Standard?

The Driver Exemption Programs that govern the Federal Vision Exemption Program have recently undergone changes. Drivers looking for an exemption for monocular vision will undergo examination by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Getting an exemption will require meeting the Alternative Vision Standard, which has four parts:

  • The better eye has distance vision of 20/40 on a Shellen chart (with or without corrective lenses), and at least a 70-degree field of view horizontally.
  • The driver can recognize traffic control colors: red, green, and amber.
  • Any vision deficiency is stable (not getting worse).
  • Enough time has passed for the driver to be able to adapt and compensate for the deficiency.

Once the eye exam is completed the proper paperwork must be presented to a certified medical examiner who will make the final decision.

The form required is form MCSA-5871 (Vision Evaluation Report), which is only valid for 45 days. A Vision Evaluation Report will need some basic identifying information such as the driver’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and state.

This form can be used as part of a certified medical examiner examination. The provider will check “yes” to monocular vision on the MCSA-5875

In addition, a road test will be required for all drivers who are physically qualified for the first time. This road test takes place after the medical exam and the medical examiner plays no part in a road test. Typically, the employer (or motor carrier) will conduct the road test and issue a certificate 49 CFR 391.31.

Remember: the road test examiner doesn’t need to know about any monocular vision.

There are very few exemptions from the road test, but there are exemptions for drivers who have operated previously for three years with the same deficiency or have previously operated under various exemptions (such as 390.3T(f) or 391.2). Some drivers may also be exempt if they previously held a valid FMCSA exemption on or before March 22, 2022.

In rarer cases, drivers may be exempt if they were medically certified under 391.64(b) (Grandfather Provision).

Common Questions About The DOT Eye Exam:

Can you use eyeglasses during the exam?

Drivers that need glasses to drive should wear them when taking their DOT physical. This will be noted on the driver’s CDL , and the driver will be required to have them while driving at all times.

Are contact lenses allowed?

Yes, the test is the same whether the driver is wearing either eyeglasses or contact lenses. (But only wear contacts if you need them while driving.)

Does the DOT eye exam test night vision?

There is no specific test for night vision as part of a routine DOT physical. Those that are worried about nighttime driving should consult with a medical professional and look into solutions such as nighttime driving glasses. Such glasses can help reduce eye strain from glare and high-intensity headlights, billboards, streetlights, and more.

How is peripheral vision tested for DOT physical?

Your field of vision is typically tested at 70 degrees from your center to your periphery. For most DOT physicals, this is accomplished by the tester asking how many fingers they are holding in the driver’s periphery view.

What if I fail my DOT eye exam?

Don’t worry. You may be able to obtain your CDL with further restrictions such as using corrective lenses while driving, having restricted driving hours, or a license that expires sooner. Everyone’s situation may vary.

Straight From the Trucker’s Mouth: Trucking Truth Forum Stories

On failing your eye exam, Jopa, Truckee, CA:

I FAILED the eye exam (20-50 when the minimum is 20-40) and had to get glasses just to pass. With the glasses, I could read ALL the lines like a champ.

Might as well bite the bullet and get it done while you have the time. Finding an eye place and getting the glasses (1-hour type service) might be a whole lot more difficult at the school than in your hometown. . .. just sayin'

On passing at an older age, Errol V. Olive Branch, MS:

I'm 65, and my eye's lenses aren't so flexible. Waiting for my DOT physical, I read a magazine. Got called in for my vision check. I could barely make out any of those letters on any line 20 feet away, glasses or not!

Later I tried again, but while waiting I just looked down the hallway (keeping my distance focus) and passed.

Lesson: while waiting for your vision check, keep that distance focus.

On matching your CDL , Susan D. Central (I-65 Corridor), KY:

I had a trainee who had a similar situation. No restrictions but wore them for the DOT physical. Had to take her home to make her CDL match her company-provided DOT physical.

She had to go to the DMV and add the eyeglass prescription restriction to her CDL before she could resume training. Luckily, it only took a couple [of] hours, and she was able to come right back on the truck that same afternoon.

Sources to incorporate:

National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Fact Sheet for CMV Drivers

Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

Form MCSA-5871

The Complete Guide To The DOT Physical

DOT Physical - Driver Exemptions


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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