April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Demographics of Bioptic Drivers in Illinois
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Matthew J. Twardowski
    Low Vision and Ocular Disease, Illinois Eye Institute, Chicago, Illinois
    Spectrios Institute for Vision Rehabilitation, Wheaton, Illinois
  • Eliot Masek
    Low Vision and Ocular Disease, Illinois Eye Institute, Chicago, Illinois
    Spectrios Institute for Vision Rehabilitation, Wheaton, Illinois
  • John D. Coalter
    Spectrios Institute for Vision Rehabilitation, Wheaton, Illinois
  • Walter M. Jay
    Ophthalmology, Loyola University of Chicago, Maywood, Illinois
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Matthew J. Twardowski, None; Eliot Masek, None; John D. Coalter, None; Walter M. Jay, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 1916. doi:
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      Matthew J. Twardowski, Eliot Masek, John D. Coalter, Walter M. Jay; Demographics of Bioptic Drivers in Illinois. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):1916.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Bioptic driving is a method of driving that utilizes both the patient’s spectacle vision in combination with intermittent spotting through a small bioptic telescopic lens attached to the patient’s spectacle. Over 40 states permit low vision patients to use bioptics to pass the vision requirements for driving. In Illinois, bioptic drivers are initially approved to drive only during the day, but after one year, may apply for night driving privileges. We utilized a phone survey to determine the demographics of bioptic drivers in Illinois.


34 of 50 patients who had undergone a driving evaluation and purchased bioptics at the Spectrios Institute responded to an IRB-approved telephone survey (19 males, 15 females). Patients were selected from a list of potential bioptic drivers from 2004 to 2010.


The average age of the subjects was 63.9 years and the range was 18-86. There were 15 different diagnoses with ARMD (9), optic atrophy (4), glaucoma (3), and ocular albinism (3) the most common. Of the 34 subjects, 30 (88%) were still driving. The average length of driving with the bioptic was 4.52 years (range 4 months to 20 years). The main motivation behind driving was independence (82%) followed by employment (24%). Of the 30 still driving, 19 (63%) drove daily, 6 (20%) drove 3-5x/week. Of the current drivers, 63% drove less than 10 miles per trip. 12 of the 30 drivers stated they would drive on all road types including expressways. 26 of 30 stated they usually drive alone. 13 of 30 used GPS navigation systems. 17 of 30 rarely or never drove at night, while 18 of 30 passed a night road test. 4 of the 34 (11%) were involved in an accident. 7 of the 34 (21%) had received a moving violation.


In Illinois, many low vision patients with a wide variety of ophthalmologic diagnoses are successfully driving. Many are gainfully employed. The accidents and moving violations for the subjects studied did not point to a general public safety concern regarding bioptic drivers.

Keywords: low vision • aging: visual performance 

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