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HomeminewsVisual Field Defects Increase Crash Risk: WA Study 

Visual Field Defects Increase Crash Risk: WA Study 

An Australian study has concluded that specific types of defects in vision are associated with increased risk of car crashes. 

The study, from the University of Western Australian, is the first population-based investigation to compare a largescale ophthalmic database of visual fields for older adults with police-reported crash, licensing, and hospital morbidity data.  

Researchers evaluated 29 years of data from more than 31,000 drivers in Western Australia aged 50 and older. More than 4,000 older drivers, accounting for 14% of older drivers in WA, were involved in at least one car crash. More than half of those in a crash were experiencing some extent of visual field loss.1 

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  

“We… hope to better inform clinicians, licensing authorities, and people with visual field defects of the thresholds for visual field loss that still allows for safe driving.” 

Lead researcher, Dr Siobhan Manners said the study revealed that the area of vision affected, and severity of it contributed significantly to crash risk: 

  • Visual field loss of any sort in both eyes increased the odds of a car crash by 84%. 
  • Moderate visual field loss in one eye increased car crash risk only if it occurred in the left upper or lower quadrants. 
  • Severe vision loss in any quadrant increased the chances of an accident. 
  • Central vision loss in either eye was not associated with an increase in car crash incidents. 

“Many people think that only good visual acuity or clarity of vision is necessary for safe driving,” Dr Manners said. 

“We hope these results will help educate the public about the importance of having an adequate field of vision to be able to continue driving safely.  

“We also hope to better inform clinicians, licensing authorities, and people with visual field defects of the thresholds for visual field loss that still allows for safe driving.” 

Reference 

  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology, How Much Vision Loss is Too Much When it Comes to Driving? (media release, 6 November 2023), avail at: aao.org/newsroom/news-releases/detail/how-much-vision-loss-is-too-much-for-driving [accessed 21 Nov 2023].