People with Hemianopia Are Not Safe to Drive, Study Finds

More than a million people suffer from hemianopia, a condition in which one half of the visual field in both eyes is blinded, usually as the result of a stroke or head injury. A recent study conducted by the scientists at have found that patients with hemianopia have significantly more difficulty detecting pedestrians while driving than normally sighted people.

The results are meant to fight some recent on-road studies that have found most people with hemianopia are safe to drive. "Our study urges caution in opening the door for people with hemianopia to start or continue driving again," said first author, Dr. Alex Bowers, who is an Assistant Scientist at Schepens.

"The results are important because they mean we need to continue to look carefully at people with this condition and evaluate them individually to determine their fitness to drive,"
added Dr. Eli Peli, principal investigator of the study and senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute.

In at least 22 states and many other countries, people with hemianopia are prohibited from driving because they do not meet the visual field requirements for getting their license. They do not know what they can't see and frequently bump into and trip over objects while walking, so with driving it gets even more dangerous.

The scientists found that drivers with hemianopia detected on average only about 45 percent of pedestrian figures. The team is currently working on further determining whether an optical aid that expands the visual field, such as the peripheral prism glasses, might help drivers with hemianopia.
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