Jack Daniels Independence contest submission:

Hi, I am Alan Brown.  My birth date is 03/30/1957.  My day job is eye surgery and I love helping people see well again, but
my real passion is my medical device research center.  It is there that I have been creating a new way to illuminate the eye during surgery, and a new means for marking the eye for astigmatism.  These early projects have been costly but are now far enough along that I have some industry interest.  My hope is that some of these smaller projects could fund larger endeavors allowing me to transition to a full time medical device design career.

My submission for the Jack Daniels Independence contest is a way to fund the next project, the Dynamic Vision Tester.  The basic idea is that visual acuity testing started around 1862, and has not changed much since.  It has always been static, meaning that there was no movement of the chart letters or "optotypes".  The car came into being around 1885 in Germany, about 23 years after vision testing.  Driver's testing did not begin in the USA until 1899.  Cars became faster and streets more complicated, but vision testing, one of the chief elements of the driver's exam, has never changed to match the vision requirements of driving, namely that driving vision requires good vision in motion.  So for the last 113 years we have had a static vision test trying to qualify a dynamic activity, driving.  It is time for our testing to match the environment or driving by creating a software program that can mimic vision needing while driving.
How it would work
I know a software development company that can create images or letters or optotypes that start small and grow in size at a rate that would match a certain driving speed, say 55 mph.  The person taking the test would first have reaction time testing by being asked to click a control when they see a sudden object.  That reaction time would be taken into consideration for the rest of the calculation needed for the visual acuity testing.  The next part of the test would  present one to three letters "coming at the viewer" at 55 mph.  When the person can clearly see the letters they click a control which makes the letter disappear.  They tell the examiner what they saw which is entered into the program.  Since the program knows the size of the letters when the control was pushed, it can calculate the visual acuity at that speed.  Additionally, the program can calculate whether that person's reaction time is safe enough for the tested speed. Night vision testing could also be evaluated.

A USA today piece in 2007 talked about fatal crashes involving the elderly:

"State laws are inconsistent on the issue, according to the IIHS, which researches factors that cause crashes. Most state driver's license laws require basic eye exams but typically cannot detect a driver's diminished physical capacity and cognitive awareness.No state has an age limit on drivers.

"It's a huge problem, and we really don't have any solutions to it yet," says Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "We need to keep moving on it and try to find solutions as quickly as possible." "

Clearly, improving the vision testing to make it dynamic, and including reaction times would restrict most visually and cognitively unsafe drivers, saving thousands of lives.  No one wants to be denied driving, but a failed test has the benefit of alerting the patient to potential health issues.  Diabetes, hypertension,glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disease can all affect vision.  A failed test may be as simple to correct as a new pair of glasses.  But it may also save the life of the person who failed if it brings to light undiagnosed medical problems.  It will certainly save the life of drivers who would have shared the road with the failed driver who could not see or react in time to avoid a collision.

The prize money would be used to fund the software development.  Creating moving letters will be easy but the software for reaction time input and visual acuity at certain speeds is more complicated.  I have had estimates from $ 20,000 to $ 50,000 for the software part.  The hardware should be a simple computer with fixed distance to the screen.

I have talked at national meetings about the other eye devices and so I have an ability to "get the message out".  I am familiar with the vision testing companies that might make the new Dynamic Vision Test for the DMV.

Finally, in the spirit of "Instructables", we would offer the Dynamic Vision Test online so others could test their vision at any time and so get help with any vision issues without waiting for their next DMV test or worse, and accident.

Funding this project would allow Jack Daniels to make the roads safer for all of us, and as a side benefit, would get medical care to those who's vision was down due to disease.

Thanks for your consideration.

Alan W Brown

PS.  My son helped me with the Vimeo upload and so I used his Vimeo account, not knowing it would publish the video under "Dillon Brown", but he really did help so much with the creation of the video that he deserves credit.  If I don't have the embed code correct the link is:

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