Glaucoma is a well-known eye condition that can significantly impact an individual's ability to drive safely. A study conducted a comprehensive investigation into the types of driving errors and locations that pose the most significant challenges for older drivers with glaucoma compared to those without the condition. The study involved 75 drivers with glaucoma, characterized by mild to moderate field loss, and 70 age-matched controls without glaucoma. The participants' on-road driving performance was evaluated in a dual-brake vehicle, yielding valuable insights into the impact of glaucoma on driving abilities.

The primary objective of this study was to assess the on-road driving performance of individuals with glaucoma, particularly focusing on the types of driving errors and problematic locations encountered in comparison to those without glaucoma. The methodology involved a standardized on-road assessment.

Patients’ on-road driving performance was evaluated in an automatic, dual-brake vehicle by an occupational therapist using a standardized scoring system to assess driving errors, error locations, critical errors needing instructor intervention, and driving safety on a 10-point scale. Additionally, self-reported driving ability and difficulties were recorded using the Driving Habits Questionnaire.  The findings revealed important nuances in the driving abilities of individuals with glaucoma, shedding light on specific challenges and areas of concern.

Older drivers with glaucoma, characterized by mild to moderate field loss, exhibited distinct patterns of driving errors and faced challenges in particular driving locations.  Assessing driving behavior involved considering various aspects such as general observation, braking/acceleration, lane positioning, gap selection, approach to hazards, blind-spot observation, and indication/signaling. 

Each location was categorized into one of six situation types: traffic light controlled intersections, one-way traffic (straight and curved driving), two-way traffic (straight and curved driving), give-way situations (stop/give-way intersections, non-traffic light controlled intersections, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts), maneuvering scenarios (reversing, parking, turnaround maneuver and negotiation through traffic slowing devices), and merging instances (lane changing, merging and entering/exiting traffic flow).  The total number of errors for each situation was determined relative to the total evaluations for each participant at that specific location.

These results have significant implications for patients diagnosed with glaucoma, as they underscore the importance of comprehensive assessments and tailored support to address the specific driving difficulties associated with this condition. By understanding the types of driving errors and challenging locations, healthcare professionals can provide targeted guidance and interventions to enhance the safety and confidence of individuals with glaucoma who wish to continue driving.

In conclusion, the study offers profound insights that underscore the urgent need for individuals diagnosed with glaucoma to seek comprehensive support from their healthcare providers. The research not only sheds light on the specific challenges faced by glaucoma patients during on-road assessments but also amplifies the importance of proactive consultation with healthcare professionals. Patients can take proactive steps to address any potential safety concerns and receive tailored guidance to navigate this complex dynamic. Glaucoma patients need to prioritize regular consultations with their doctors, ensuring that their unique driving challenges are acknowledged, addressed, and managed effectively.

  1. Wood, J. M., Black, A. A., Mallon, K., Thomas, R., & Owsley, C. (2016). Glaucoma and Driving: On-Road Driving Characteristics. PLoS ONE.
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