Now you see it, now you don?t. Preliminary investigation of age related decrements in peripheral vision
A new testing procedure for peripheral vision that involves the measurement of spatial masking (?crowding?) has recently completed the first stage of the validation process. The computer-controlled test determines observers? pattern-recognition capacities in the peripheral visual field by measuring their ability to recognise ?crowded? targets, analogous to the ?real-world? capacity to recognise an individual cyclist at a busy intersection in peripheral vision. The test incorporates proven vision research techniques, and the most appropriate masking (flanking) stimuli. Older adults characteristically perform less well on visual tasks than their younger counterparts. The ultimate aim of the research program is to explore the question of why older people are over represented in crashes at intersections, with the long-term objective of facilitating a reduction in the number of such crashes. To establish whether age-related decrements exist in peripheral pattern recognition, tasks were administered to thirty older adults aged 70 + and thirty younger adults aged 17 - 37. All participants had their vision assessed by an optometrist prior to participation and met the vision standards for driving in South Australia. Simple patterns were projected onto a screen for 125 milliseconds in either flanked (analogous to a cyclist at a busy intersection) or unflanked (analogous to an individual cyclist) conditions. Older people experienced more difficulty in the peripheral pattern recognition tasks than their younger counterparts, especially when the patterns were flanked.