Understanding the relationship between eye disease and driving in very old Australian women: a longitudinal thematic evaluation

BMC Ophthalmol. 2022 Jun 24;22(1):277. doi: 10.1186/s12886-022-02506-8.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Over recent decades an increasing number of adults will retain their driver’s licenses well into their later years. The aim of this study was to understand and explore the experience of driving and driving cessation in very old Australian women with self-reported eye disease.

METHODS: An interpretative qualitative study. Participants were from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (cohort born in 1921-26), a sample broadly representative of similarly aged Australian women. Responses to open-ended questions were analysed using an inductive thematic approach, employing a process of constant comparison.

RESULTS: Qualitative data were from 216 older women with eye disease who made 2199 comments about driving, aged between 70 and 90 years depending on the timing of their comments. Themes included: (1) Access to treatment for eye disease promotes driving independence and quality of life; (2) Driving with restrictions for eye disease enables community engagement and (3) Driving cessation due to poor vision leads to significant lifestyle changes.

CONCLUSIONS: Key findings highlighted driving cessation, or reduction, is often attributed to deterioration in vision. The consequence is dependence on others for transport, typically children and friends. Access to successful treatment for eye disease allowed older women to continue driving. We posit that occupational therapists can play an essential role in promote driving confidence and ability as women age.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Not applicable.

PMID:35751055 | DOI:10.1186/s12886-022-02506-8

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