Problems With Vision Associated With Limitations or Avoidance of Driving in Older Populations


Objectives. This report examines the role of (a) disease processes affecting vision, (b) reported troubles with vision, (c) physical symptoms affecting the eyes, and (d) objective measures in reported driving limitation due to problems with eyesight among older drivers.

Methods. Data for this study (N 1⁄4 1,840) were obtained from participants in a community-based study of aging and physical performance in people age 55 or older in the city of Sonoma, California. Each of 16 visual conditions was assessed for impact on reported driving limitation due to eyesight by calculating a ‘‘risk’’ ratio. Then, prevalence of the condition was combined with the ratio to generate an attributable risk for that condition for vision-related limitations in driving.

Results. Each condition was significantly associated with reported limitations in driving due to eyesight. ‘‘Avoiding physical activity due to vision’’ (ratio 1⁄4 3.4) and ‘‘trouble seeing steps up/down stairs’’ (ratio 1⁄4 2.9) had the strongest association. However, ‘‘glasses/contacts required for driving’’ and ‘‘trouble with glare from sun/lights’’ had the highest attributable risks (35.8 and 29.4).

Discussion. The risk ratio is relevant for evaluating individuals; the attributable risk is relevant to planning countermeasures in populations. Addressing specific problems related to vision should substantially reduce driving limitations due to eyesight. 

Publication date: 
January 1, 2004
Publication type: 
Journal Article