We need to talk about driving

Given that optometrists have a key role in ensuring their patients drive with their glasses, it is important to understand why patients choose not to drive with their best vision. This article provides a summary of a study addressing this key issue.

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Introduction

Most of us have examined patients who have glasses for distance vision, but choose not to wear them for driving. Given that as optometrists we have a key role in ensuring our patients drive with their glasses, it is important to understand why patients choose not to drive with their best vision. However, until our recent study no research had addressed this key question. In that study we asked drivers directly why they drive without their glasses; the manuscript of this study was published in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.1 It involved carrying out six focus groups involving 30 drivers aged 24–70 years who reported having driven uncorrected at least twice in the past 6 months, despite having a distance vision correction (distance single vision, varifocal or bifocal lenses) and asking them why they drive without their glasses.

The current article summarises that study from a clinical perspective, with relevant background and findings from the focus groups offered along with quotes from participants, as well as key implications for optometrists in their practices. It should be noted that all of the quotes included here that are not in the original published paper1 were collected as part of the same study. The participants’ thoughts and opinions regarding this issue offer highly valuable information for optometrists, with one message coming through loud and clear: as optometrists we need to get better at talking about driving.

Four aspects of driving and vision are discussed below. Based on these findings, this article considers how conversations between optometrists and patients about driving and vision could be improved.
 

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17 November 2015 Optometry in Practice

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