Sleep-related eye symptoms and their potential for identifying driver sleepiness

Publisher's full text
Ashleigh J Filtness
Torbjörn Åkerstedt
Göran Kecklund

The majority of individuals appear to have insight into their own sleepiness, but there is some evidence that this does not hold true for all, for example treated patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Identification of sleep-related symptoms may help drivers determine their sleepiness, eye symptoms in particular show promise. Sixteen participants completed four motorway drives on two separate occasions. Drives were completed during daytime and night-time in both a driving simulator and on the real road.

Ten eye symptoms were rated at the end of each drive, and compared with driving performance and subjective and objective sleep metrics recorded during driving. 'Eye strain', 'difficulty focusing', 'heavy eyelids' and 'difficulty keeping the eyes open' were identified as the four key sleep-related eye symptoms. Drives resulting in these eye symptoms were more likely to have high subjective sleepiness and more line crossings than drives where similar eye discomfort was not reported. Furthermore, drivers having unintentional line crossings were likely to have 'heavy eyelids' and 'difficulty keeping the eyes open'. Results suggest that drivers struggling to identify sleepiness could be assisted with the advice 'stop driving if you feel sleepy and/or have heavy eyelids or difficulty keeping your eyes open'.

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