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Anecdotes

This page features some personal perspectives about driving with a biOptic.  If you'd like us to feature your experience, please contact us.  .....And could you help with a survey of biOptic drivers?  Click hereIf you have any relevant pictures, please upload them, here.

See a video clip of a BiOptic driver. 

This clip is taken from "Hope In Sight: Living With Macular Degeneration" produced by the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, MA under NEI grant R43 EY12443.  The driver is a patient of Dr. Eli Peli using a DVI 4.0X expanded field telescope.  The clip is 4.72 MB, and requires Microsoft Windows Media Player.  Click here to view the clip.

USA anecdotes column

Lisa

Lisa is a 51 year old woman with congenital nystagmus who lives in the U.S. Her visual acuity using a Snellen measure is O.U.: 20/200 (6/60) and using a low vision chart she measures 20/140 in her better eye with standard correction. With a BiOptic telescopic system she obtains 20/40 visual acuity. She has normal visual fields, color vision, and contrast sensitivity. Lisa has used a hand-held monocular since the age of 14 and she reads using standard print with a 20 diopter hand-held magnifier.

In 1971 Lisa first looked into the possibility of driving with low vision. At that time there was only one type of BiOptic telescopic system and she did not consider it a system that would lead to safe driving. She also believes that at that time she received insufficient information about how the lens was used during the process of driving.

In the late 1980's a new system was developed that seemed to better meet her visual needs. She began driving in 1991 and has averaged 14,000 miles per year. She has no restrictions placed on her license though she limits her own driving at night to familiar locations and she tries to avoid nighttime driving when it is raining or snowing. Lisa has, according to her insurance company, "an excellent driving record" with 10 years of accident-free driving.

It is this kind of experience that motivates those who developed this website.  We seek to proliferate information to facilitate driving with BiOptics.  We also seek acceptance of the intellectual case for this, especially where driving with BiOptics is still not permitted.  Lisa, TN

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Susan's story

I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and graduated from St. Andrew's University with a BSc [Hons] in Chemistry.  My work took me to Newcastle, in North East England.  Then my employer offered an opportunity to transfer together with my family to the US, in Sept 2000.  This was a good job opportunity for both my husband and me; he works for the same company.  One of my main concerns was that the US, and our location to be, was a car driven environment and I was a non-driver due to my low vision.  I had been told in Scotland at 8 years old that I would never drive. 

All my life in the UK I had grown up dealing with the challenge of not driving.  Which become even more difficult when I started to work and some years later was raising a young family (I have 2 young children under the age of 5). My husband has a busy job and was often traveling globally, which left me with the very tough challenge of managing life in the UK without a car.

We decided to accept the move to the US with all its uncertainties. At this point I had no knowledge that a special driving program was in place for people with certain types of low vision (acceptance onto the program depends on eye condition and visual acuity etc).  In the US I went to the CAB - Cincinnati Association for the Blind (like the British RNIB) to identify visual aid equipment for my office. Since I was in the States, a completely new geography and one renowned for its innovation and technology advancement, I was excited to see if they had any other new technology/visual tools that would be helpful to me. It was there during a visual assessment that the eye doctor said, "you know there is a high chance you could drive on the BiOptic driving program, you are an ideal candidate". I just about went through the roof. After years of conditioning that I would never drive there was a medical professional telling me there was a high chance I could. I could hardly believe it.

I was determined to get the license as soon as possible so immediately started to pursue it. It was a long and thorough process, which took me 10 months. The process involves medical assessments specific to driving, waiting for BiOptic glasses, fittings and training in glasses usage, and training in driving whilst using glasses and for me driving itself (I had never driven in my life). In November 2001 I got my Ohio drivers license. What a dream. What a gift. What freedom and independence. I was ecstatic and still am. Having a driver's license has been life changing for me, and certainly a major milestone in my life at 35 years old.  

Susan, OH

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Matthew wrote:

Ever since I was diagnosed with a vision disability at age 5, it was apparent that driving would be a challenge for me. At first I was too young to understand the impediment to my freedom and mobility that not being able to drive would create but as I became a teenager, the reality of the situation became apparent. I became frightened that my vision impairment, which had not prevented me from playing sports like soccer, basketball, football, and even golf, could prevent me from driving. 

Thankfully, Dr. Peli was able to give me a prescription for BiOptic technology. The BiOptic devise increased the detail of objects in the distance. The BiOptic allowed me to see the road signs that would have ordinarily been very hard to decipher until they were close to the vehicle.

Using the BiOptic took practice but I didn't need a specialist to learn to use it. I went to a normal driving school and was taught like any other student. Aiming the BiOptic is a relatively easy skill to learn once one masters the quick eye movement necessary to view through it and maintain focus on the other vehicle traffic. 

Over the past several years, I have had my license in the state of Massachusetts and have had a clean driving record in that time. The state has changed slightly the rules about BiOptics during that time by reducing the permitted power and requiring the lens be fixed, instead of focusable, for no apparent reason.. 

Despite of these setbacks, I have continued to hold my license and thanks to it have been able to commute to my college every weekday for classes. Driving has stopped being a luxury in modern society and has become more and more of a necessity. Anything that can allow visually impaired people to be more productive and participate unimpeded in society should be implemented. BiOptics have benefited me greatly and can benefit many others as long as governments are willing to aid this portion of their population.  Matthew, MA

UK anecdotes column

Sophie

In November of 1999 I set off down the interstate towards the airport, some two hours drive away from my home. No buses to catch, no transfers to make, no trains to miss, no taxis to fork over my week's savings to, and no friends to feel obligated to along the way. It was just me, my truck, a tank full of fuel, and a mind full of thoughts about my coming meeting.

I love driving. Sure, it can get on your nerves when you had to be somewhere 10 minutes ago and there's a queue 2 miles long between you and that intended destination. Whenever I'm in such situations I just sit back, mutter a few impolite phrases under my breath, and then contemplate how fortunate I am to be able to pilot a vehicle through the madness of rush-hour in the first place. Indeed driving is an immense responsibility in that one must be alert and aware of the surroundings at all times in order to avoid harming others. But the level of independence and feeling of self-control gained by the ability to drive a car can literally change a person's life. It certainly changed mine.

My meeting with the man at the airport went very well. So well, in fact, that I later left the world I know to join him in his world.

His world, while different from mine, still has cars and roads. It still has cities and countryside. It also has buses, trains, subways, and taxis. And they have virtually all of the same drawbacks they did in my world. Drawbacks that originally drove me to discover that, contrary to what society had conditioned me to believe, I could drive.

The difference in this new world (which ironically is old in comparison to my world), is that here in the United Kingdom I can not currently obtain a driver's license. It's not because I'm a bad or dangerous driver. I've never had a traffic conviction or an at-fault accident. It's not because the traffic is much worse than it was in the U.S., or the roads and signs are drastically different. It's not because I've failed a driver's test-I've not even been afforded the chance to try. Nor is it about the technology or eyewear available to me as a low-vision driver, both are just as available to me here as they were back home in the US.

So what "is" the difference? Good Question!

In fact, it is the very question that has prompted the existence of this web site.  Sophie, England


Also read this article by Paul B Freeman O.D.: "If you don't like the way I drive" [160 Kbs PDF format]


More personal experience

For another portrait of a BiOptic driver, and to read some of her story, click here.

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In some countries, smaller plates are accepted, e.g. on motorbikes. These require use of biOptic.

In some countries, smaller plates are accepted, e.g. on motorbikes. These require use of biOptic.

An example biOptic, by Designs for Vision, Inc


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All 2000+ pages on this website were BOBBY level 1 compliant  We'd be grateful for expert assistance to develop this to modern standards. Please contact the Webmasters via facebook link above. Contact Webmasters Accessibility   This page last edited: 13 April 2012
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Disclaimer statement: BiOptic Driving Network does not sell, endorse, or offer opinions on products, manufacturers, or professionals whose services/products may be secured following posting on this website.  Products and individuals pictures on this site have been specifically authorized by the relevant manufacturer or individual.  We are a registered not for profit organization, and provide information to help make informed choices.  We do not give individuals optometric or ophthalmologic advice, but may refer one to an eminent expert.  A BiOptic Telescopic System does not itself make someone a safe driver; specialized training is prerequisite.