Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bioptic Lenses - Giving Low Vision People a Chance!

A lot of people today need their own cars for an array of reasons, convenience being one on the lead. Some however are unable to have them because of a simple fact: they have poor eyesight. Also, in the US alone, millions of licensed drivers are in danger of losing their license for the same reason. This could have unprecedented effects, like limited mobility and unemployment.

Often, visual impairment can be severe and may even lead to blindness, which inevitably restricts people from driving, but with advancements in technology, people with mild or moderate central vision impairment can be allowed to drive with the use of BiOptic Lens System.

A bioptic lens system, as described in a layman’s term, are a set of small telescopes placed above eyeglass lens’ center to ensure that they don’t obstruct normal vision. This is usually prescribed by eye experts specializing in low vision and like normal eyeglasses, has different styles, sizes and grades and can be purchased depending on the requirement. They are really easy to use: Just incline your head downwards and look a bit up. This allows visually impeded people to read traffic signs or distinguish traffic lights like normal people.

This doesn’t mean that the whole driving experience is based on using the bioptic lens though, since in a normal situation, a person will only use his or her bioptic lens around 5-10% of the time. This is pretty much like peering at the rear view mirror, which visual impaired people don’t find annoying at all.

For an individual with eye problems to be deemed as fit for bioptic driving, a lot of approaches are made and often a low vision ophthalmologist is required. Other professionals could include: occupational therapists and mobility instructors. Basically, these individuals use methods to check certain critical skills in order for a visually impaired individual to be qualified as a bioptic driver. Some of these skills are: distance viewing skills, object awareness skills and of course, mastery of the bioptic lens system usage. These are all aimed in determining if the person can detect critical objects by identifying color, detail and movement.

In the US, 34 states allow people affected with mild to moderate visual acuity impairments to drive using a bioptic lens system. Countries under the European Union don’t permit it, but there has been a lot of talk lately and the possibility of the legalization of bioptic driving is looking bright.

There are still a lot of debates whether people with low vision should be allowed to driveâ€"with or without biopticsâ€"since there are still some things that are subject to question, like the degree of vision a person with visual impairment has. Also, a lot of concern has been voiced on the matter of alternatives to bioptic driving, but only time will tell if such developments are possible. With the way technology is progressing, it’s highly possible that newer, more efficient alternatives could be developed.

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