The week of December 3-7 is designated Older Driver Safety Awareness Week by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). One of the goals of this week is to, “promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community.”
One of the keys to mobility for an older driver experiencing a vision loss, may be the option of training with bioptic glasses . Of course, bioptic may also be a great solution for a younger driver with low vision, as well!Most states permit the use of bioptic for driving, and some states permit the use of bioptic to pass the acuity test needed for driver’s licensure. Please note, not all drivers with vision loss will be good candidates for bioptic, and it is a conversation to have with your eye doctor, or low vision doctor.
State laws vary widely with respect to the standards for driver licensure and the use of bioptic glasses for driving. To check your state’s laws go to the Bioptic Driving USA website and click on your state.
Bioptics are comprised of a pair of carrier lenses, which look like glasses. with a small telescope mounted at the top of one or both lenses. When used for driving, the driver is looking through the carrier lenses almost all the time. To look through the telescope at a street sign or other item of interest, the driver dips his or her head very slightly to look through the telescope for a fraction of a second, then returning to the carrier lens. Bioptics are fit specifically for each individual driver.
To learn more about bioptic driving consult the Bioptic Driving Network. Another great resource is national is nationally recognized bioptic driving specialist and teacher, Chuck Huss.
For more information on the history and research behind driving with bioptic, one of the most comprehensive resources was written by Cynthia Owsley, PhD Driving With Bioptic Telescopes: Organizing a Research Agenda .