Date Published:2016 Sep
Driving is an important rehabilitation goal for patients with homonymous field defects (HFDs); however, whether or not people with HFDs should be permitted to drive is not clear. Over the last 15 years, there has been a marked increase in the number of studies evaluating the effects of HFDs on driving performance. This review of the literature provides a much-needed summary for practitioners and researchers, addressing the following topics: regulations pertaining to driving with HFDs, self-reported driving difficulties, pass rates in on-road tests, the effects of HFDs on lane position and steering stability, the effects of HFDs on scanning and detection of potential hazards, screening for potential fitness to drive, evaluating practical fitness to drive and the efficacy of interventions to improve driving of persons with HFDs. Although there is clear evidence from on-road studies that some people with HFDs may be rated as safe to drive, others are reported to have significant deficits in skills important for safe driving, including taking a lane position too close to one side of the travel lane, unstable steering and inadequate viewing (scanning) behaviour. Driving simulator studies have provided strong evidence of a wide range in compensatory scanning abilities and detection performance, despite similar amounts of visual field loss. Conventional measurements of visual field extent (in which eye movements are not permitted) do not measure such compensatory abilities and are not predictive of on-road driving performance. Thus, there is a need to develop better tests to screen people with HFDs for visual fitness to drive. We are not yet at a point where we can predict which HFD patient is likely to be a safe driver. Therefore, it seems only fair to provide an opportunity for individualised assessments of practical fitness to drive either on the road and/or in a driving simulator.