Helen Nguyen

Helen Nguyen

Postgraduate Research Student
School of Optometry and Vision Science



Prof Lisa Keay


A/Prof Julie Brown

Dr Kristy Coxon

Email Address: helen.nguyen1@unsw.edu.au

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Driving is the preferred means of transport in Australia. The capacity to drive is rated the second most instrumental activity of daily living by older Australian adults. It allows individuals to remain independent and fulfil their social commitments. Safe driving requires individuals to satisfactorily complete a range of physical, visual, and cognitive actions. Due to mandatory medical tests all older drivers must go through as part of NSW’s licencing system, changes in vision are one of the first and most noticeable declines. Visual field loss, glare sensitivity, and diminished visual attention have all been identified as significant predictors of crash involvement in older drivers. These drivers are 3 to 4 times more likely to be involved in any type of car crash, and 15 times more likely to be involved in intersection crashes. In order to continue driving safely, vision-impaired older drivers modify their driving behaviours by avoiding high-risk driving situations, such as driving in bad weather or at night, and reducing driving distances. Subsequently, these modifications are strong predictors of driving cessation. Retirement from driving is a difficult decision as the loss of independence and mobility is associated with higher rates of isolation, symptoms of depression and poor health. My PhD aims to investigate safe mobility for people with age-related vision loss, in the context of jurisdictional control, the vehicle fleet including semi-autonomous technology, and requirements for community mobility in modern Australian society.


Helen Nguyen graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) in Physiology from the University of Sydney in 2018. Since then, she has shifted her attention towards vision science and has been involved with both clinical and public health research projects in this area. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked as a research assistant with the Injury Division at The George Institute for Global Health and then in a similar role at UNSW’s School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS). Helen also currently holds a position at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research as a technical officer with the Retina and Eye Disease Research Group.


2020- current PhD Vision Science, UNSW Sydney

2014-2018 Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons), University of Sydney