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Can a standard vision test predict nighttime driving performance?
Date:4/10/2012

Rockville, Md. Just because a driver has passed the motor vehicle administration's vision test may not mean he or she is safe to drive. A recent study found that the frequency and distance at which drivers with moderate levels of blurred vision and cataracts recognize pedestrians at night was severely reduced, even when the drivers have passed the required vision test.

"Optical blur and cataracts are very common and lots of people with these conditions continue to drive," said author Joanne Wood of the School of Optometry and Vision Science and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at Queensland University of Technology. "The aim of our study was to better understand how these visual conditions affect the ability to recognize and respond to roadside pedestrians at nighttime, and we also wanted to see if certain types of pedestrian clothing could improve the ability of a driver to recognize pedestrians at night, even when the driver had some level of visual loss."

In the study, Even moderate visual impairments degrade drivers' ability to see pedestrians at night, published in the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science journal, 28 young adult licensed drivers who satisfied the minimum Australian driver's licensing criteria of 20/40 or better vision were used to measure a driver's ability to recognize pedestrians.

The participants drove at night on a closed road circuit wearing simulated refractive blur and cataract lenses. The pedestrians wore one of three different type of clothing: all black; all black with a reflective vest; and all black with reflectors on their wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, shoulders and waist to create a perception of human movement, known as biomotion. Sixteen of the 28 participants were asked to detect the pedestrian against simulated headlight glare.

Findings demonstrated that cataracts are significantly more disruptive than blurred vision. Drivers with simulated blurred vision
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Contact: Katrina Norfleet
knorfleet@arvo.org
240-221-2924
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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