Objective: In this article, we review the impact of vision on older people's night driving abilities. Driving is the preferred and primary mode of transport for older people. It is a complex activity where intact vision is seminal for road safety. Night driving requires mesopic rather than scotopic vision, because there is always some light available when driving at night. Scotopic refers to night vision, photopic refers to vision under well-lit conditions, and mesopic vision is a combination of photopic and scotopic vision in low but not quite dark lighting situations. With increasing age, mesopic vision decreases and glare sensitivity increases, even in the absence of ocular diseases. Because of the increasing number of elderly drivers, more drivers are affected by night vision difficulties. Vision tests, which accurately predict night driving ability, are therefore of great interest.
Methods: We reviewed existing literature on age-related influences on vision and vision tests that correlate or predict night driving ability.
Results: We identified several studies that investigated the relationship between vision tests and night driving. These studies found correlations between impaired mesopic vision or increased glare sensitivity and impaired night driving, but no correlation was found among other tests; for example, useful field of view or visual field. The correlation between photopic visual acuity, the most commonly used test when assessing elderly drivers, and night driving ability has not yet been fully clarified.
Conclusions: Photopic visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of night driving ability. Mesopic visual acuity and glare sensitivity seem relevant for night driving. Due to the small number of studies evaluating predictors for night driving ability, further research is needed.