Having the conversation about vision for safe driving with older adults: an exploratory study of eyecare professional experiences in England and Australia

Publication Name

Clinical and Experimental Optometry


Clinical Relevance: Eyecare professionals assess older adults against the vision requirements for driving and discuss this with them on a regular basis. Improved access to resources/training would be beneficial and help eyecare professionals navigate more difficult conversations about driving, e.g., following acute vision changes. Background: The numbers of drivers aged >65 years is increasing in many countries, in line with ageing populations. In most countries the onus is on the driver to self-monitor their vision for driving, by engaging in regular eye tests. Eyecare professionals therefore could play an important role in older driver decision-making about their fitness to drive. There is limited guidance for eyecare professionals regarding how to approach conversations with older drivers about their vision, and when these conversations should be had. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with eyecare professionals involved in vision assessments and decision-making about medical fitness to drive for older adults (optometrists, orthoptists, ophthalmologists). Framework analysis identified challenges and facilitators to conversations with older drivers about vision. Results: Twenty-six eyecare professionals from Australia (n = 17) and England (n = 9) participated from urban and regional/rural areas. Themes were divided into facilitators (clear standards and comprehensive testing; positive approach; preparation and patient self-awareness; relationships and trust; importance of multiple options in guiding a transition to driving retirement) and challenges (acute loss of visual function; limited self-awareness of the impact of visual problems on driving; and perceived lack of resources and need for training). Conclusions: Eyecare professionals prefer to have early and regular conversations with older adults about their vision for driving. Acute visual field/acuity loss or onset of double vision, necessitating rapid changes to driving behaviour, were both identified as major challenges for eyecare professionals. Improved access to resources and training would be beneficial, to help eyecare professionals navigate these especially difficult conversations and signpost older drivers to appropriate support.

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