Vision problems prompt seniors to hang up keys
General Practitioners (GPs) can delegate visits to patients and medical work to qualified employees. In this way, they can provide care to more patients. Neeltje van den Berg and coauthors from Greifswald and Neubrandenburg Universities present the “AGnES” project in the current edition of Deutsches ?zteblatt International ( Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106[1-2]: 3-9). The
Full Post: AGnES supports general practitioners
With 30 million drivers in the U.S. aged 65 and over, we count on older Americans to recognize when they can no longer drive safely and decide that it’s time to stay off the road.
A new study finds that a decrease in vision function is a key factor in bringing about this decision.
The Salisbury Eye Evaluation and Driving Study (SEEDS), conducted by researchers affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, looked at changes in vision, cognition and the general health status of more than 1,200 licensed drivers aged 67-87 in Salisbury, MD, a community with limited public transportation. SEEDS is unique, in that the researchers performed comprehensive tests of both vision and cognitive function.
The results, recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, reveal that after a year, 1.5 percent of the drivers had given up driving, and another 3.4 percent had restricted their driving. The most common predictors of stopping or decreasing driving were slow visual scanning, psychomotor speed and poor visuo-constructional skills, as well as reduced contrast sensitivity. (These skills are necessary to help drivers be aware of and respond to other cars, road conditions and road signs. Contrast sensitivity is the ability to detect detail in shades of gray; it is necessary for driving in poor weather and low lighting.)
“These skills are important for safe and confident driving where objects are moving at rapid speeds in relation to each other, and timely and accurate judgments are required,” the researchers stated.
The study, which was in part supported by the National Institute of Aging, also found that women were four times more likely than men to stop or restrict their driving. In addition, drivers who had higher depression scores on the initial test were more likely to have given up or restricted their driving after a year. Previous studies have examined depression as an effect of giving up driving, not as a predictor.
“Older drivers are the fastest growing sector of all licensed drivers in the US,” noted researcher Lisa Keay, PhD. “The decision to stop or limit driving to one’s own neighborhood has major implications for personal independence - but it is an important way to maintain the safety of older drivers and those who share the road.
“As a society, we would like to think that when a driver recognizes that his or her functions related to vision or cognition are declining, they make that crucial decision. My colleagues and I found it reassuring that in this group, that appeared to be the case.”
A vision screening law targeting Florida drivers age 80 and older appears to be associated with lower death rates from motor vehicle collisions in this age group, despite little evidence of an association between vision and car crashes, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Full Post: Vision screening law for older Floridians associated with lower fatality rates in car crashes
Dr Catherine Leamey from the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney has been awarded the 2008 Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Medical Research for her work in identifying the gene that enables binocular vision. In the absence of this gene the projections from the two eyes which see the same
Full Post: Young researcher identifies binocular vision gene
Students’ successes in the first grade can affect more than their future report cards. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers found links among students’ weak academic performance in the first grade, self-perceptions in the sixth grade, and depression symptoms in the seventh grade. “We found that students in the first grade who struggled
Full Post: Recognizing children’s successes in all areas may prevent teenage depression
A new study from Georgia Tech shows that when patients with macular degeneration focus on using another part of their retina to compensate for their loss of central vision, their brain seems to compensate by reorganizing its neural connections. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The study appears in
Full Post: Brain reorganizes to compensate for loss of vision
Research in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that after a one-hour delay of school start times, teens increased their average nightly hours of sleep and decreased their “catch-up sleep” on the weekends, and they were involved in fewer auto accidents. When school started one hour later students averaged
Full Post: Later school start times may improve sleep in teens and decrease risk of auto accidents