Driving with Bioptics
Bioptic telescopes can help eligible visually impaired individuals obtain a driver’s license and be safer drivers, thus increasing their independence and enhancing their quality of life.
How do bioptics help low vision drivers?
The challenge that visually impaired individuals encounter while driving is that they must get so close to a sign or signal to see it that there is insufficient time for them to make the appropriate driving adjustments. The bioptic telescope allows them to see the target sooner, giving the driver more time to react. In practice, the telescope increases the individual’s ability to see further forward by a factor of the power of the device. For example, a 3x telescope will allow the user to see a sign at 60 feet through their bioptic, while they would only be able to see it at 20 feet with their normal vision- 3 times further away.
Drivers using bioptics look through their regular eyeglass lenses most of the time, and only sight through the telescope for short periods of time similar to the use of the rear and sideview mirrors.
Research studies confirm that bioptics help driving…
Our study suggests that the vast majority of bioptic drivers find the bioptic telescope useful as an assistive device in a range of driving tasks. Read the full paper
Owsley, C. et al., Visually Impaired Drivers Who Use Bioptic Telescopes (abrev.), Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. Jan 2014; 55 (1)
The majority (74%) rated the bioptic telescope as very helpful, and almost all (90%) would continue to use it for driving, even if it were not required for driving licensure. Read the full paper.Bowers AR, Apfelbaum DH, Peli E., Bioptic Telescopes Meet the Needs of Drivers with Moderate Visual Acuity Loss, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Jan;46(1)
Legal issues about driving with bioptics
Many states in the US and some countries allow visually impaired individuals to use bioptic telescopes to drive. However each Motor Vehicle Agency has its own rules and regulations regarding driving with bioptics. You should consult your low vision specialist to determine the requirements for using bioptics for driving in your community. Decisions regarding driving with bioptics rest solely with the licensing agency, the prescriber and the user. Ocutech makes no claims regarding the fitness of any of its devices or the fitness of any individual using bioptic devices for driving.