An eye movement test that measures the time it takes to read a series of numbers in a vertical and horizontal pattern may be an inexpensive and easy way to assess those who want to obtain or renew their driver’s license, new research suggests.

The investigation enrolled 302 healthy participants between the ages of 20 and 86 who completed a self-reported questionnaire and took the study’s Adult Developmental Eye Movement test.

The majority of participants (71%) were drivers. The investigators considered a set of driving parameters and demographic variables as potential predictors of test performance, including experience, risk exposure, day and night perceived difficulty, age, gender and academic level.

Drivers’ testing times were lower than non-drivers’, with those with experience behind the wheel performing better overall. The more years spent driving and the more miles driven annually yielded better test results.

Additionally, age, followed by driving experience and the perceived difficulty in driving at night, was the main test performance predictor.

The test may help in the detection of impairments in the saccadic efficiency, which could have a detrimental effect on driving performance, the researchers noted.

“While this visual-verbal test may not directly assess ocular movements or driving performance, it may be helpful in indirectly detecting oculomotor function and visual-verbal attentional issues, which may be related to a worsened driving performance,” the study authors wrote in their paper.

Gené-Sampedro A, Alonso F, Sánchez-Ramos C, et al. Comparing oculomotor efficiency and visual attention between drivers and non-drivers through the Adult Developmental Eye Movement (ADEM) test: a visual-verbal test. PLoS One. February 5, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].