Blur, eye movements and performance on a driving visual recognition slide test

Lee, Sze-Yee Samantha, Wood, Joanne M., & Black, Alexander A. (2015) Blur, eye movements and performance on a driving visual recognition slide test. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 35(5), pp. 522-529.

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Optical blur and ageing are known to affect driving performance but their effects on drivers' eye movements are poorly understood. This study examined the effects of optical blur and age on eye movement patterns and performance on the DriveSafe slide recognition test which is purported to predict fitness to drive.


Twenty young (27.1 ± 4.6 years) and 20 older (73.3 ± 5.7 years) visually normal drivers performed the DriveSafe under two visual conditions: best-corrected vision and with +2.00 DS blur. The DriveSafe is a Visual Recognition Slide Test that consists of brief presentations of static, real-world driving scenes containing different road users (pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles). Participants reported the types, relative positions and direction of travel of the road users in each image; the score was the number of correctly reported items (maximum score of 128). Eye movements were recorded while participants performed the DriveSafe test using a Tobii TX300 eye tracking system.


There was a significant main effect of blur on DriveSafe scores (best-corrected: 114.9 vs blur: 93.2; p < 0.001). There was also a significant age and blur interaction on the DriveSafe scores (p < 0.001) such that the young drivers were more negatively affected by blur than the older drivers (reductions of 22% and 13% respectively; p < 0.001): with best-corrected vision, the young drivers performed better than the older drivers (DriveSafe scores: 118.4 vs 111.5; p = 0.001), while with blur, the young drivers performed worse than the older drivers (88.6 vs 95.9; p = 0.009). For the eye movement patterns, blur significantly reduced the number of fixations on road users (best-corrected: 5.1 vs blur: 4.5; p < 0.001), fixation duration on road users (2.0 s vs 1.8 s; p < 0.001) and saccade amplitudes (7.4° vs 6.7°; p < 0.001). A main effect of age on eye movements was also found where older drivers made smaller saccades than the young drivers (6.7° vs 7.4°; p < 0.001).


Blur reduced DriveSafe scores for both age groups and this effect was greater for the young drivers. The decrease in number of fixations and fixation duration on road users, as well as the reduction in saccade amplitudes under the blurred condition, highlight the difficulty experienced in performing the task in the presence of optical blur, which suggests that uncorrected refractive errors may have a detrimental impact on aspects of driving performance.

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ID Code: 87290
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: ageing, driving, eye movements, optical blur, Visual Recognition Slide Test, visual search
DOI: 10.1111/opo.12230
ISSN: 02755408
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Copyright Owner: © 2015 The Authors
Copyright Statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Blur, eye movements and performance on a driving visual recognition slide test, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/opo.12230. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Deposited On: 07 Sep 2015 03:13
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2015 20:29

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