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BMC Ophthalmol. 2013 Sep 10;13:45. doi: 10.1186/1471-2415-13-45.

Driver self-regulation and depressive symptoms in cataract patients awaiting surgery: a cross-sectional study.

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Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC), School of Public Health, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.



Cataract is an extremely common visual condition of ageing. Evidence suggests that visual impairment influences driving patterns and self-regulatory behavior among older drivers. However, little is known about the psychological effects of driver self-regulation among older drivers. Therefore, this study aimed to describe driver self-regulation practices among older bilateral cataract patients and to determine the association between self-regulation and depressive symptoms.


Ninety-nine older drivers with bilateral cataract were assessed the week before first eye cataract surgery. Driver self-regulation was measured via the Driving Habits Questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Visual, demographic and cognitive data were also collected. Differences between self-regulators and non self-regulators were described and linear regression modeling used to determine the association between driver self-regulation and depressive symptoms score.


Among cataract patients, 48% reported self-regulating their driving to avoid at least one challenging situation. The situations most commonly avoided were driving at night (40%), on the freeway (12%), in the rain (9%) and parallel parking (8%). Self-regulators had significantly poorer contrast sensitivity in their worse eye than non self-regulators (p = 0.027). Driver self-regulation was significantly associated with increased depressive symptoms after controlling for potential confounding factors (p = 0.002).


Driver self-regulation was associated with increased depressive symptoms among cataract patients. Further research should investigate this association among the general older population. Self-regulation programs aimed at older drivers may need to incorporate mental health elements to counteract unintended psychological effects.

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