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Mojtaba Moharrer, Shuhang Wang, Bradley E. Dougherty, Walter Cybis, Brian R. Ott, Jennifer D. Davis, Gang Luo; Evaluation of the Driving Safety of Visually Impaired Bioptic Drivers Based on Critical Events in Naturalistic Driving. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2020;9(8):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.9.8.14.
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Visually impaired people may be allowed to drive if they wear bioptic telescopes. Bioptic driving safety is debatable, especially given that the telescopes are seldom used by most bioptic drivers. This preliminary study examined bioptic safety based on critical events that occurred in naturalistic daily driving.
Daily driving activities were recorded using in-car video recorders in 20 bioptic drivers (median age 55, visual acuity, 20/60–160) and 19 control subjects (median age 74) for two to eight weeks. In a secondary analysis, these subjects were compared with 44 cognitively impaired drivers with normal vision (median age 75).
In 292 hours of driving by bioptic drivers and 169 hours by control drivers, seven bioptic drivers and three control drivers had eight and four near-collisions, respectively. Near-collision survival times were not significantly different between the two groups (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.93, P = 0.591) according to Cox hazards regression. Even without compensation for bioptic drivers’ longer driving exposure, their odds ratio (OR) was not statistically significant (OR = 2.88, P = 0.18). When including cognitively impaired drivers with normal vision, cognition was a significant predictor of near collisions (HR = 3.86, P = 0.036), but vision loss was not (HR = 0.47, P = 0.317).
This preliminary study failed to find any evidence suggesting that bioptic drivers were more prone to near-collision than healthy drivers. Vision might be a less-significant factor than cognition.
Given that bioptic drivers use the telescope for less than 2% of the driving time, this study suggests that driving safety might not be substantially affected even when visual acuity is in the low vision range.
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