Authors
Zhang, Christine (Ting) BASc; Bowers, Alex R. MCOptom, PhD, FAAO; Savage, Steven W. PhD

The Effects of Age, Distraction, and Simulated Central Vision Impairment on Hazard Detection in a Driving Simulator

publication date
December 15, 2019
Category
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Abstract/Introduction

SIGNIFICANCE 

Despite similar levels of visual acuity and contrast sensitivity reductions, simulated central vision impairment increased response times to a much greater extent in older than in younger participants.

PURPOSE 

Driving is crucial for maintaining independence in older age, but age-related vision impairments and in-vehicle auditory distractions may impair driving safety. We investigated the effects of age, simulated central vision impairment, and auditory distraction on detection of pedestrian hazards.

METHODS 

Thirty-two normally sighted participants (16 younger and 16 older) completed four highway drives in a simulator and pressed the horn whenever they saw a pedestrian. Pedestrians ran toward the road on a collision course with the approaching vehicle. Simulated central vision impairment was achieved by attaching diffusing filters to a pair of laboratory goggles, which reduced visual acuity to 20/80 and contrast sensitivity by 0.35 log units. For drives with distraction, subjects listened to an audiobook and repeated out loud target words.


Conclusion/Results

RESULTS 

Simulated central vision impairment had a greater effect on reaction times (660-millisecond increase) than age (350-millisecond increase) and distraction (160-millisecond increase) and had a greater effect on older than younger subjects (828- and 492-millisecond increase, respectively). Simulated central vision impairment decreased safe response rates from 94.7 to 78.3%. Distraction did not, however, affect safety because older subjects drove more slowly when distracted (but did not drive more slowly with vision impairment), suggesting that they might have perceived greater threat from the auditory distraction than the vision impairment.

CONCLUSIONS 

Older participants drove more slowly in response to auditory distraction. However, neither older nor younger participants adapted their speed in response to simulated vision impairment, resulting in unsafe detections. These results underline the importance of evaluating safety of responses to hazards as well as reaction times in a paradigm that flexibly allows participants to modify their driving behaviors.


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Testimonials


My eight year old daughter was terrified to go to the eye doctor for fear of her eyes being dilated. The doctor was SO KID friendly! He immediately made her comfortable by engaging her in conversation. It was a geat experience.


Joya B.

Dr. Garbus spent an amazing amount of time to solve my very complicated visual problems. Over the years he has continually achieved results beyond what others felt possible. He is always up to date on the latest science. He is great!


Dolores K.

Family Vision Care Valencia makes it so easy. Staff is knows what they are doing and Dr. Garbus is thorough and kept me well informed during the exam.


Kristy B.

I have been coming to Family Vision Center for almost 20 years. Dr. Garbus has been able to help my vision when other doctors could not. Now my kids see him as well. I highly recommend this office!


Autumn C.

The Doctor is very good. I felt on this visit he seemed rushed. I had questions to ask him but he was already with another patient. I still do not know if my eyes are the same , worse, or better.


Howard B.

All the staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and has been for all the years I have been going there.


Mary Ann H.
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