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Br J Ophthalmol. 2003 Nov;87(11):1387-90.

Pupil dilatation does affect some aspects of daytime driving performance.

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Centre for Eye Research, School of Optometry, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



To examine the effects of pupil dilatation on driving performance and determine whether this was related to changes in standard measures of visual function.


The driving and vision performance of 16 young, visually normal participants was measured with both normal and dilated pupils. Pupils were dilated with 1% tropicamide. Driving performance was measured under daytime conditions on a closed road circuit that was free of other vehicles and has been used in previous studies of driving performance. Measures included road sign detection and recognition, hazard detection and avoidance, gap perception and negotiation, driving reaction times and time to complete the circuit. Visual performance measures included high contrast visual acuity, Pelli-Robson letter contrast sensitivity, and glare sensitivity.


Pupil dilatation significantly (p<0.05) decreased the ability of participants to recognise low contrast hazards and avoid them, decreased their visual acuity and contrast sensitivity and increased glare sensitivity. The decreases in vision performance were not, however, significantly related to the decrement in driving performance.


Pupil dilatation can impair selected aspects of driving and vision performance and patients should be cautioned about these possible effects.

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