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Bicycle Riding with a Visual Handicap?

Wilhelm H., Endres B.,
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Universitäts-Augenklinik, Abt. II, Neuroophthalmologische Ambulanz (Tübingen)

Pupose: Riding bicycle offers the possibility to be independently mobile even without driving license. However, no rules or guidelines exist for visual handicapped patients concerning their ability to be mobile by bicycle. The aim of this study was, to gain information about this.
Method: 346 selected patients from our clinic for degenerative retinal diseases received a questionnaire concerning their bicycle riding. The responses were correlated to findings in our clinic. Selection criteria were diagnosis of either retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration, age between 14 and 60 years, no additional handicap. Finally 232 questionnaires were returned. We divided patients into 2 groups, one with reduced visual acuity, one with constricted visual field. Each group was subdivided into 5 degrees of severity (see Table, for the visual field the horizontal diameter was considered for this evaluation).
Results: The table shows the percentage of bicycle users in each subgroup, additionally divided in patients with and without accidents because of reduced vision.
Visual acuity                       >0.6  >0.4-0.6  >0.2-0.4  >0.1-0.2  0.1
Biking without problems     50         40            67            33          15
Biking with accidents           25         33            22            53          35
Stopped biking                      25         27            11            14          50
Visual field                            >90°  60-89°  40-59°  20-39°  <20°
Biking without problems       40       41         17         18           8
Biking with accidents             40       27         42         26        25
Stopped biking                        20       32         42         56        67
Conclusions: The percentage of those riding their bicycle without any problems decreases continuously with the reduction of visual function. For visual acuity a steep decline is seen in group 4, for visual field in group 3. Visual field seems to be more important than visual acuity.