Vision care providers hesitant to report older drivers with vision problems: studies

Ann Arbor, MI - The majority of vision care providers ask patients older than 65 about their driving experiences, but more than half are hesitant to report drivers who score poorly on visual tests, according to two studies published online Oct. 8 in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Researchers surveyed more than 400 Michigan-based ophthalmologists and optometrists about how they discuss driving performance with older patients and whether they report patients with impaired driving vision to physicians or to government agencies such as state departments of motor vehicles.

According to the studies:

  • Two-thirds of respondents reported always asking about older patients’ driving ability, and 87 percent of the time they counseled patients about their driving if they performed poorly on a vision exam.
  • About one-third said they report concerns about a patient’s driving to the patient’s primary care physician.
  • About 57 percent said they are hesitant to report issues to regulatory agencies, as it would negatively affect the physician-patient relationship.

Researchers also found that vision tests may not adequately determine patients’ driving abilities and recommended tests such as contrast sensitivity evaluations to help determine how well patients can distinguish roadway objects.

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