Bioptic glasses (Driving)

Losing your ability to safely drive due to low vision can be extremely demoralizing, as it greatly limits your personal freedom. There is good news though, and that is that there are specialized bioptic glasses designed for use while driving that can help you reclaim that independence and quality of life, despite your low vision. There are states that allow special permits for driving with bioptic glasses, enabling you to drive as you wish. 

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Table of Contents

What are Bioptic glasses?

Bioptic glasses function similarly to a telescope, aiding those with low vision to see distant objects with clarity. Unlike the regular magnifying glasses that only help to zoom in on nearby objects, bioptic glasses take a step further. Bioptic glasses, designed specifically for low vision patients, are worn just like regular glasses, with a unique feature: a miniature telescope mounted on one or both lenses.

This telescope is strategically positioned on the top part of the lens, allowing the wearer to choose when to use it by slightly tilting their head downwards. This means when you look directly ahead or downwards, you're viewing through the regular part of the lens, referred to as the carrier lens, which carries your regular glasses prescription. This dual function makes bioptic glasses highly adaptable to varying visual requirements.

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What are the challenges of driving with low vision?

Driving with low vision can be a considerable challenge. The activity demands a high level of awareness and preparedness, with tasks like reading road signs or viewing traffic lights from a distance requiring good visual acuity. Unfortunately, waiting until close proximity to see road signs or other objects clearly can be dangerously late when driving.

To get your driver’s license, you have to pass an eye exam, which can prove challenging with low vision. However, bioptic telescope glasses may be a solution for many struggling with these issues. These glasses are allowed in certain states provided you meet the necessary requirements for a special permit.

How can bioptic glasses help while driving?

How can bioptic glasses help while driving?

Bioptic glasses are particularly useful for driving because they cater to the diverse visual demands associated with the activity. As a driver, you need clear near vision to observe what is directly in front of you on the road and on the dashboard. Concurrently, distance vision is equally crucial to see signs ahead and monitor the roads and cars from afar. Bioptic telescope glasses can help you maintain clear vision at all distances, notwithstanding your low vision diagnosis.

While driving, most wearers find that they primarily use the carrier lens, only tilting their head to use the telescope about 2-3% of the time. Though the telescope's usage is brief, much like using side and rear view mirrors, it remains highly beneficial. Studies show that 90% of people driving with bioptic telescopes would continue to do so, even if it wasn't mandated by their state's driving regulations.

Obtaining Bioptic Glasses

Obtaining Bioptic Glasses

To get your bioptic glasses, you will first need to undergo a comprehensive vision exam by your eye doctor. This exam will allow your eye doctor to determine the type of visual assistance you need, whether it's bioptic glasses or some other form of low vision device. Once the type of aid is decided, they can recommend the best fit for you and provide you with a prescription.

For instance, if you wish to obtain a driver’s license, an eye exam is conducted at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). If you don't pass this test, a more extensive eye exam is conducted by an eye doctor who evaluates whether you could benefit from bioptic telescope glasses. In certain states, you can get a special permit to drive with bioptic glasses if you meet the necessary criteria. For more information about this process and to find out if you are eligible to use bioptic glasses for driving, please consult our eye doctor.

Remember, adapting to bioptic glasses may take some time, but most users generally become accustomed quickly. With bioptic glasses, low vision no longer needs to be a roadblock to safe and confident driving.

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Common Questions

Bioptic glasses, which are specialized telescopic lenses designed to enhance vision, can vary widely in cost depending on the complexity and customization required. Prices may range from $1,500 to over $3,000. It's wise to consult with a low vision optometrist, who can conduct a low vision exam and determine the specific needs and options for your visual condition. Some insurance plans may cover part of the cost, and various organizations may offer financial assistance.
For low vision patients looking to drive, bioptic telescopic glasses are often the primary device recommended. These glasses combine standard lenses with small telescopes, enabling individuals to see objects at a distance more clearly. A low vision eye doctor can conduct a specialized exam and training to determine if bioptic glasses are a suitable solution, and guide the patient in using them effectively for driving.
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Bioptic glasses are an extremely helpful low vision device which is especially useful while driving, as it allows the wearer to quickly switch to a higher magnification to focus on specific distant objects. If you have low vision and you are interested in learning more about bioptic glasses, we invite you to contact to schedule an appointment for a low vision eye exam at your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice.

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