Bioptic Telescopes Meet the Needs of Drivers with Moderate Visual Acuity Loss

Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
Investigative Ophthalmology &amp Visual Science (Impact Factor: 3.4). 02/2005; 46(1):66-74. DOI: 10.1167/iovs.04-0271
Source: PubMed


Visually impaired people are permitted to use bioptic telescopes for driving in many states in the United States. However, it has been suggested that the telescope is used only to meet the visual acuity criteria for licensure. In this study, a survey was used to establish the extent to which bioptic telescopes are used by and meet the driving needs of people with moderately reduced visual acuity.
A cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of 58 bioptic drivers was administered by telephone interview. Bioptic telescope usage patterns were quantified with questions designed specifically for the study. Driving patterns were quantified by use of the Driving Habits Questionnaire. Subjects were recruited from four sources across the United States to ensure a range of bioptic training and driving experience.
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; however, only 62% reported always wearing the bioptic when driving. Subjects had relatively unrestricted driving habits, driving a mean of 222 +/- 211 miles per week, and 85% aged < or =65 years drove to work. With the exception of driving in rain, in bright sunlight, and at night, there was little difficulty with driving in a variety of situations, and levels of driving avoidance due to vision impairment were low (<10%).
The bioptic telescope met the (self-reported) driving needs of the majority of visually impaired drivers in this survey and was found to be a useful aid for tasks requiring resolution of detail.

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    • "Indeed if using a binocular telescope, the ring scotoma would be expected to impair detection. However, with monocular fitting as required in many states and widely practiced (95% of participants in a bioptic questionnaire drove with a monocular bioptic),(Bowers et al., 2005) the fellow (non-telescope) eye could potentially detect hazards lost to the ring scotoma of the telescope eye. This had been demonstrated with conventional perimetry (Lippmann, Corn & Lewis, 1988), and in recent studies we found that bioptic users are able to detect targets in the ring scotoma area also on more visually complex backgrounds (Doherty et al., 2013, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: riving by visually impaired people using bioptic telescopes is permitted in 43 states, yet their use remains controversial. One of the concerns is that the ring scotoma (blind area caused by the telescope magnification) may block the field-of-view, impacting detection of potential hazards when looking through the telescope. We evaluated the ability of the non-telescope eye to detect hazards in the field-of-view covered by the ring scotoma. Three participants watched a series of 54 real world driving videos that included 45 potential hazardous events and pressed a button as soon as a hazard was detected, in three conditions: just watching the videos, and while performing a reading task without or with a bioptic telescope. Results showed that all participants had either reduced detection rates or increased reaction times to hazards when performing the reading task with a bioptic telescope. These preliminary results suggest that attention demanding tasks and viewing through the telescope might impair hazard detection ability. Additional study is needed to fully understand the safety of bioptic driving.
    7th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design; 01/2013
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    • "Users may be particularly motivated to state how useful they are given that their licensure depends on their use of BTS when driving. Slightly over half report they wear BTS when driving (Bowers et al., 2005b), but once again there are no objective data to confirm self-reports. It remains to be determined to what extent BTS drivers actually wear and use BTS when driving and in what driving scenarios BTS are helpful from driver performance and safety perspectives. "
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    ABSTRACT: Driving is the primary means of personal travel in many countries and relies heavily on vision for its successful execution. Research over the past few decades has addressed the role of vision in driver safety (motor vehicle collision involvement) and in driver performance (both on-road and using interactive simulators in the laboratory). Here we critically review what is currently known about the role of various aspects of visual function in driving. We also discuss translational research issues on vision screening for licensure and re-licensure and rehabilitation of visually impaired persons who want to drive.
    Vision research 11/2010; 50(23):2348-61. DOI:10.1016/j.visres.2010.05.021 · 1.82 Impact Factor
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    • "Although data on the ages of those who use bioptics for driving are limited, the surveys that have been conducted (Bowers et al., 2005; Park, Unatin, & Park, 1995) have suggested that the vast majority of bioptic drivers are not older adults with AMD, but young and middle-aged adults with earlyonset retinal degenerations. Clinical anecdotes are consistent with this finding. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article reviews the research literature on driving and age-related macular degeneration, which is motivated by the link between driving and the quality of life of older adults and their increased collision rate. It addresses the risk of crashes, driving performance, driving difficulty, self-regulation, and interventions to enhance, safety, and considers directions for future research.
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