The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

March 9, 2004

Driving Simulator Awarded $155,000 FDA Contract

The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa has been awarded a $155,000 contract from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to validate a vision test for use in simulated driving performance tests.

Standard tests of vision routinely used in clinical practice and the evaluation of ophthalmic devices provide only a comparison to what is considered "normal." They do not measure functional performance and, in particular, driving performance.

Such an evaluation tool would provide sponsors with a least burdensome alternative with which to evaluate a new ophthalmic device, while providing the FDA with valuable information regarding the impact of such products on public health and safety. This has become more of an issue as rapid advancements in ophthalmic device technology lead to ever-increasing expectations for better visual outcomes.

The NADS will be used to determine the correlation between the drop in contrast sensitivity and the drop in driving safety measures. Contrast sensitivity in subjects will be artificially reduced using neutral density filter goggles.

Ginger Watson, principal investigator, says, "This study is important as a first step in setting standards to link visual testing and driving performance. It could help with understanding vision and driving performance as well as in developing more effective devices."

The project co-principal investigator is Mark Wilkinson, UI clinical associate professor in the UI department of ophthalmology, where clinicians will carry out the ophthalmic evaluations.

Data collection is expected to begin spring 2004. Persons who live near the NADS and who would like to participate in a NADS study are asked to call the NADS hot line at (319) 335-4719 or register on line at

The NADS is the largest and most sophisticated research-oriented driving simulator in the world. It was built to conduct research that will ultimately lead to reductions in the number of traffic-related deaths, injuries, and incidents of property loss on the nation's highways. The NADS, located at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Research Park, is a national shared-use facility owned by the NHTSA of the Department of Transportation and operated by the University of Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,