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Callum Mole, Matthew Smith, Georgios Kountouriotis, Catharine Chisholm, Bipinchandra Bhakta, Richard Wilkie; Visual field defects, eye-movements and driving. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):486. doi: 10.1167/13.9.486.
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Driving a car is for many in the aging population an essential part of maintaining mobility and quality of life. Older adults are more susceptible to stroke, which can cause visual field deficits that often preclude patients from driving based on pre-set visual field requirements (DVLA). However, despite these visual deficits some individuals may be able to adapt (e.g. by adopting compensatory eye-movement strategies such as increased scanning of the visual scene; Coeckelbergh, Brouwer, Cornelisson et al., 2002). To examine this further we used a simulated driving scenario where participants were asked to maintain one of 3 potential starting positions along a virtual roadway and measured eye movements and steering performance. We tested 15 stroke patients with either left or right homonymous hemianopia (LHH/RHH) or left visual inattention (LVI) and 16 healthy age-matched controls. Our findings showed that the nature of visual impairment differentially affected steering behaviour. VI led to marked steering deficits across all road positions compared to controls, LHH only displayed deficits when trying to maintain a leftward starting position (and RHH performed similar to controls). When examining individual performance some patients appeared to demonstrate normal steering performance despite visual deficits. Distinct gaze pattern differences may help explain these individual differences since successful steering was associated with directing eye-movements towards the regions on the road they were required to steer through (rather than being locked in a fixed direction). We suggest that our experiment indicates that compensatory eye-movement strategies may have the potential to moderate steering deficits related to visual impairment, providing an exciting avenue for directing future rehabilitative research efforts in driving after stroke.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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