The age-dependent effect of night driving on visual performance and on simulated driving behaviour

Both younger and older drivers are challenged by reduced vision in low-light conditions as they occur during night driving. Contributing factors are age-related increased glare sensitivity and decreased mesopic visual acuity. We assume that the visual exploration behavior under mesopic light conditions is an important predictor of driving performance. In this project, the age-dependent influence of mesopic vision, cognition, and comorbidity are evaluated regarding their influence on visual exploration behavior and on simulated driving performance. In collaboration with the Haag-Streit AG (Köniz, Switzerland) and with the support of the Haag-Streit Foundation, we have developed a screening tool for the Octopus 900 perimeter that will support and enhance “fitness-to-drive” assessments and decisions. The results of 121 healthy test persons of all ages show age-effects in peripheral targets detection and search strategy. Older subjects actively searched for targets whereas younger subjects had a passive search strategy, which outperformed the active strategy. Current work focuses on new tests to measure higher visual functions.

Testing device of the functional visual field test. Chin rest and forehead rest are not shown.