AVM Survivors Network

Peripheral vision loss and seeing ophthamalogist


I had a craniotomy last year to remove my grade I AVM and had some peripheral vision loss (about a quadrant) as a result of that. My surgeon wants to refer me to see a neuro-ophthamalogist and potentially having vision therapy but I am afraid of what they will do with my driver’s license. Do the doctors report patient’s vision problems to DMVs? From what I can read on DMV’s website, they can have you take special driver’s test and give you only limited driver’s license for reduced peripheral vision. I live in California.

Does anyone in California have similar experience and know what to expect?

Thank you!

Can’t comment on California DMV but in Florida you need 130 degree vision field to drive so I can’t drive here after losing my left peripheral vision; and yes they’re supposed to report it to the DMV but that isn’t always the case if you get a good person…

Thank you, Mike5. I think it’s 120 degree in California. This gives me an idea on what to expect. My deficit is on the lower left quadrant though so not sure how they would determine the degree…

The vision field test they do with the opthamologist will give you the degree; I think if you’re just lower left you might be alright but your opthamologist will have to determine that or your State DMV unfortunately.
I don’t have any left peripheral vision out of either eye so I would not see anything coming from my left side so that is why they won’t let me drive.

I had an uncontrolled bleed during my brain surgery. when I woke up from my surgery I had lost my peripheral vision. My neurosurgeon told me that my vision may or may not come back and that it was too soon too tell. I had to teach myself to walk because as you know with the loss of your peripheral vision objects seem to suddenly appear in front of you and can really throw you off. My doctor did not inform the licencing bureau but he did tell not to drive and his words struck me very hard “you will not see the child until you hit them”. So, I did not drive and made the decision to make the best of a bad situation. If my vision was not to come back I would move to a city that had busses and in the meanwhile I would look at this experience like an adventure that most do not ever get to “see”. I found it fascinating that my brain took over and made it feel like I had full vision like switching to widescreen on a TV. Shopping was a bit of an experience because I was continually being shocked when people would suddenly appear in front of me (you have no idea how much you truly use your peripherals until you lose them) and I found that I was a little dizzy after (not realising I was continually turning my head from one side to the other to compensate). Long story short, after about six months I started realising that I was starting to see more and more. I had my neurosurgeon assess me and he agreed to send me to an ophthalmologist to be tested. I was really very nervous. But yes, my vision had returned, not fully but at least to the extent that I would not be a harm to anyone on the road (and legal). Give yourself sometime to experience firstly the fact that you are alive and have been given more time on this earth to enjoy family, friends etc. And secondly, have fun with it…it really is something that not everyone gets to experience and it really is quite amazing. Keep positive thoughts and don’t give up. We have all been given a second chance :smile:


I agree with everything Jill says. I had my bleed four months ago and lost lower left peripheral. I think it may be improving but I do bump into things occasionally and it amazes me how my brain has compensated. I was not allowed to drive for 3 months but have recently been assessed and my license returned to me. I live in the U.K. I should say that my vision loss is minor but noticeable. I’m still feeling grateful to be alive and not more severely affected by my bleed. The part about enjoying friends, family is spot on. I’ve also been rediscovering my hobbies like painting, fishing and have even been out cycling today. I feel so lucky. I had radiosurgery a few weeks ago and felt pretty unwell for a while, better now. I do have some headaches where my large AVM is (RHS occipital) and I worry about another bleed, but mostly I don’t let it bother me and just try not to think about it. Life is good!

Finally, addressing the driving point my advice to anyone in this situation is do not try to game the system or avoid being assessed. If the system you live under (Cali, UK, wherever) assesses that you aren’t fit to drive you are NOT FIT to drive. Imagine how you would feel if you cause someone serious harm through an accident. You will not be insured if you haven’t taken the required tests, and you need to inform your insurer of the AVM. I know that’s hard to hear if you rely on your car for work, but you need to also consider the potential consequences.
Wishing you all the best.