New Mexico tests vision online

When it comes to modernizing motor vehicles departments, the humble driver's

license test and its vision exams have been left out of e-government programs.

But a breakthrough in computer-based testing has a slew of states ready

to dump their pre-World War II vision-testing boxes.

And if a six-month pilot in New Mexico lives up to expectations, states

could get even more information from online vision and written tests.

"[It] will allow us to produce reports so that we can more easily correct

test questions, or get the word out to driving schools and the public that

there are issues they need to pay particular attention to," said Keith Perry,

deputy director of New Mexico's Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).

The system will enable the MVD to provide immediate feedback to license

applicants regarding potential problems with their vision. Eventually, Perry

said, that information could be e-mailed directly to a doctor's office.

The system uses software developed by vision specialist VisionRx Inc.

that provides what the company described as "better than standard" tests

for visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, peripheral vision and color perception.

People taking the test manipulate images on a computer monitor.

The pilot tests are being conducted at local MVD offices in New Mexico,

though having Web-based delivery means that testing sites could be set up

in libraries, malls and other public places. People could even take the

tests at home using computer "Webcams," but that's still some ways off,

Perry said.

As many as 19 states are considering using the new vision test systems,

according to VisionRx. The company hopes to have at least two more states

signed up by the end of this year.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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