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Janessa A. Kimlin, Alex A. Black, Joanne M. Wood; Nighttime Driving in Older Adults: Effects of Glare and Association With Mesopic Visual Function. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(5):2796-2803. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-21219.
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To examine the associations between nighttime driving performance of older drivers and photopic, mesopic, and glare-based tests of visual function.
Participants included 26 older drivers (71.8 ± 6.3 years), with minimal or no eye disease, but who reported vision-related nighttime driving difficulties. Nighttime driving performance was assessed on a closed-road circuit, which included intermittent glare. An overall driving performance score was calculated based on detection of signs, pedestrians, wooden animals and road markings, lane-keeping, and avoidance of low contrast hazards. Visual function tests included photopic and mesopic visual acuity (VA) and contrast sensitivity (CS). Tests of glare (Berkeley Glare and Aston Halometer) and mesopic motion sensitivity were also assessed. Regression analyses were used to explore the associations between these vision measures and nighttime driving performance.
The overall driving performance score was significantly reduced by intermittent glare (P = 0.002); notably, pedestrian detection decreased by 38% in the presence of intermittent glare (P < 0.001). Overall driving scores were most strongly associated with motion sensitivity (P = 0.001) and mesopic high contrast VA (P = 0.002), rather than photopic or glare-based tests. Motion sensitivity accounted for more than twice the variation in driving performance compared to photopic high contrast VA (29% vs. 14%).
Glare reduced several aspects of nighttime driving performance. Mesopic tests of visual function, including motion sensitivity and mesopic high contrast VA, were more strongly associated with nighttime driving performance than photopic high-contrast VA. These results highlight the potential importance of nonstandard vision tests for assessing older drivers' visual capacity to drive at night.
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